The Ethics of E-Counselling: A Review of the Literature and Practice Guidelines
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E-counselling is the practice of counselling using computer-mediated communications. The field emerged in the 1990s and has since been vigorously debated in the scholarly literature. E-counselling involves a radical departure from face-to-face counselling in that it takes place without the client and counsellor in the same physical space, often at different times, and in the absence of sensory cues. Consequently, it has been unclear how certain basic ethical obligations, such as ensuring client confidentiality and safety, can be upheld under such conditions. This study reviews the scholarly literature in an attempt to identify these ethical practice issues. Recently developed professional guidelines are also reviewed to assess to what extent they address the ethical challenges identified in the literature. Finally, ethical knowledge gaps are identified and discussed.