Because many assessments and inventories are now available and completed online, counselors need to be aware of the issues related to the use of technology in career counseling. What are some of the concerns that you should be aware of when using computer systems with your clients? Consider issues such as confidentiality, online assessment scoring and interpretation, et cetera. What suggestions do you have to address these concerns? What would you tell a client or student about best practices when using the internet in job searches?
Respond to at least two of your peers’ posts regarding the use of technology, sharing your insight and experience.
First Peer Post
Concerns About Computer Systems
When it comes to searching for a job online, there is an overwhelming amount of information to be found (Zunker, 2016). The author goes on to say that counselors must be able to quickly sort through tons of data in order to locate the most relevant information to present to their clients. Because lots of information can be found quickly at our fingertips, career counselors have embraced the use of technology to better serve their clients. The author states that clients can use the internet to create, submit and review resumes, as well as participate in job fairs online. A big concern that counselors must be aware of, is the possibility that computer systems will one day replace the career counselor. The author emphasizes the fact that electronic systems are only tools to utilize, and that the career development therapist must maintain an active role in the career development of his or her client. The counselor is responsible for coordinating the use of the information that is gathered to help the client get a good job. A counselor may also have to help clients who are not tech-savvy.
Online Assessment and Scoring
Zunker (2016) states that counselors must be aware that online assessments must meet the same high standards that traditional printed assessments are required to meet. The author goes on to say that validity and reliability are vital in online assessments. Furthermore, a major concern regarding online assessment is the accuracy of scoring the assessments. The author states that the great thing about the computerized-scoring of assessments is that the possibility of human error is eliminated. Though this makes it very ethical, all assessments must be evidence-based.
Lawlor-Savage and Prentice (2014) state that there are many aspects of technology that aid in career counseling today. These tools offer workers the ability to utilize their time wisely and more effectively in order to train for a new job and to maintain professional development throughout the course of their careers. Some of these include distance-learning, web-based instruction, intelligent tutoring systems and many others. However, there are also many concerns with the utilization of technology including record-keeping, accessibility, therapeutic alliance, the involvement level of the therapist, and confidentiality.
Lawlor-Savage & Prentice (2014) also state that confidentiality is a major concern in any counseling setting, but especially for anything done online. The authors bring up some valid concerns regarding electronic information including the fact that computers are often hacked and private information is stolen. Career counseling in groups online would be a big risk for breaking confidentiality as well. Though the therapist can ensure a private skype session on his or her end, he or she cannot ensure that group members keep each other’s confidence. The authors go on to say that this is always a concern with group counseling in a clinic setting, but that the family relationship formed by the group usually reinforces the group members to willingly keep each other’s confidences. The online counseling group may not form this same type of close family connection, which makes breaches in confidentiality a higher likelihood.
Suggestions for Clients
When searching for a job online, today’s clients need to know specific details about the jobs that are available as well as the labor market projections (Zunker, 2016). Therefore, I plan to tell my clients to research reputable websites to consider the future of a job position to see if there is a potential for longevity in the position he or she is seeking. I also plan to caution my clients against wasting too much of their time taking random online quizzes that promise to match them to their dream-jobs. As mentioned earlier, Zunker (2016) emphasizes the importance of all assessments used to guide clients in their career decisions must be evidence-based.
Lawlor-Savage, L., & Prentice, J. L. (2014). Digital cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) in Canada: Ethical considerations. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 55(4), 231-239. doi:10.1037/a0037861
Zunker, V. G. (2016). Career counseling: A holistic approach, 9th Edition. [VitalSource Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781305729759/
Second Peer’s Post
Concerns in Using Computer Systems with Clients
Several concerns exist in using technology devices with clients in providing counseling services. In fact, an entire section (Section H) was added to the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics in an effort to establish guidelines to protect consumers from the potential dangers associated with the use of technology. Confidentiality is a huge concern when using computers with clients, as is the validity and professionalism of the vast number of internet based career development web and self-help sites. The psychometric properties, scoring, and interpretation of results of internet based assessments may be very different than the paper assessment version of the same or similar test (Zunker, 2016). Additionally, computer generated assessments do not take into account the client’s unique background and world views, nor do they necessarily stimulate continued discussions leading to career exploration (Osborn & Zunker, 2016). Both counselors and clients may be inundated by the amount of career information that exists on the internet, requiring sorting, eliminating, and prioritizing for proper use (Zunker, 2016). Clients may not be comfortable in using technology, and therapists will need to assess for their adeptness in this area. Some needs may be adequately addressed utilizing technology, while others would be better met in a hands-on or face-to-face manner.
Suggestions and Strategies to Address Concerns
Strategies are already in place for counselors to begin addressing concerns that arise from the use of technology. Counselors are advised to obtain informed consent and disclosure (Standard H.2.a.) before using technology with clients, addressing issues of risk, benefits, emergency procedures, response time, and language barriers (American Counseling Association, 2014). Counselors are required to use up-to-date encryption standards to ensure that information transferred via the internet is secure (American Counseling Association, 2014, Standard H.2.d.). Policies should also be in place around the use of social media by clients, and the limits that pertain to its use. Counselors must inform clients of the limits of confidentiality in using the internet (Standard H.2.d.), the method for electronic record keeping (Standard H.5.a.), and ensure that clients have the skills and abilities to effectively utilize assistive technology (Standard H.4.c.) (American Counseling Association, 2014). Counselors must be vigilant in evaluating internet based web-sites to ensure that the information is professional and evidence based (Zunker, 2016). Clients should be carefully monitored while operating computers or using the internet to avoid the potential for inadvertently or purposefully accessing illegal or unethical information. Professionals must consider the cultural implications of using technology in career counseling, and again articulate the possible benefits and limitations (Standard H.4.a.) (American Counseling Association, 2014).
Best Practice Advice for Internet Job Searches
Specific steps have been outlined for clients who are utilizing the internet for job search activities. The counselor administers an assessment of individual needs, orients individuals to the requirements of technology, creates individualized job search programs, participates and intervenes with technology use as appropriate, provides technical assistance, and conducts follow-up as necessary (Zunker, 2016). Clients are taught the value of the internet for current and future job searches, and its use in distant learning for future positions. Computer programs can assist clients with life planning activities designed to create person-in-environment fit with potential career opportunities (Nota, Santilli, & Soresi, 2016). The internet is merely one portion of the job search, and does not replace active involvement in the community. Also, while computerized job searches are immediate and efficient, they do not replace the empathy, support, and encouragement provided by a career counselor and a client’s natural support system.
Nota, L., Santilli, S., & Soresi, S. (2016). A life-design-based online career intervention for early adolescents: Description and initial analysis. Career Development Quarterly, 64(1), 4–19.
Osborn, D. S., & Zunker, V. G. (2016). Using assessment results for career development (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. ISBN: 9781305397774.
Zunker, V. G. (2016). Career counseling: A holistic approach (9th ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning. ISBN 9781305087286.