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The Euroguidance Network

October 2010

In this edition:

Electronic guidance – some ethical considerations

It is difficult to imagine counsellors nowadays who do not use electronic tools to a greater or lesser extent in their daily work. From communicating with their clients via emails, to setting up a common agenda on-line to using chat pages, Skype or social media. Nevertheless, there is a strong desire from various parties for counsellors to be more accessible to clients. This can be achieved through more extensive use of e-guidance.

e-guidance?
How nice it is to be able to get counselling anywhere!

Numerous cooperation projects in e-guidance have already been carried out with support from various programmes, the Leonardo da Vinci programme being one. Several more are running currently, with at least one supported by the Competitiveness and Innovation Programme.

These projects have many things in common.  The main common features are the use of emails, internet and social media. Some projects add video communication to the list and a few incorporate hardware ie. computer hard-drives or service stands. The degree to which counsellors are involved varies. In general, they are involved to at least some extent. The desire to make guidance less expensive drives the initiatives to place a massive amount of information on-line in the hope that potential clients will find what they need and use it without assistance.

In 2009 Raimo Vuorinen, Institute for Educational Research and James P. Sampson from the University of Jyväskylä wrote a paper on some of the problems faced by counsellors who never see their clients eye-to-eye. They specifically mention “inadequate guidance support for individuals using e-guidance resources, problems with distance guidance, and the validity of career assessments and information available on the Internet” .

In order to solve some these problems, they recommend the following:
  • web sites that provide career assessments and information should include links to qualified and credentialed practitioners who can provide guidance when needed
  • guidance professionals should use informed consent to indicate who is collecting and has access to the clients’ personal information, what security issues exist with an online format, and for how long records will be stored
  • guidance professionals need to educate their clients concerning the challenges and problematic situations that may occur during distant guidance
  • guidance professionals should screen their clients for suitability with respect to the specific distance services intended to be used
  • if possible, guidance practitioners should limit distance guidance to clients from cultural backgrounds that are familiar, or do appropriate preparation when offering services to clients from cultures that are different from their own
  • guidance practitioners should assess their own level of suitabilty to work with clients from a different background
  • evidence of the quality of the assessment, including reliability and validity, need to be included in the professional manual and training materials for the measure
  • the intended purpose, the target audience and the potential use of the information should be clearly identified.
Vuorinen’s and Sampson’s guidelines can be found at http://www.egos-cip.eu/node/139

Dóra Stefánsdóttir
Euroguidance Iceland