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Confidential Client Information on Kuwait Blogs
Like a double edged sword, the lack of standards for mental health workers in Kuwait puts both the client and the would-be "therapist" at risk. The absence of any locally offered graduate programs in psychology leaves the would-be "therapist" one of two choices: either leave Kuwait for several years of graduate study and APA approved internships abroad; or become a 'doctor' virtually overnight by getting an unauthenticated online diploma. Although online diplomas and degrees are not officially recognized in Kuwait--this legal stipulation has done little if anything to deter those who are interested in little more than getting a diploma that they can hang on the wall and start referring to themselves as "doctor". The trouble is that these 'online doctoral programs' somehow manage to convert 'life experience' into college "credit", conveniently ignoring the fact that professional ethics are not something that can be acquired simply by living one's life as a non-professional. By the same token it is very unclear how "life experience credits" could ever be a substitute for several years of rigorous graduate and post-graduate work! But this is just one of many examples of how Kuwait's lack of professional regulation for the practice of psychology has left the door open to a wide-range of abuses. One of the most deplorable and most harmful of all ethical violations is the breach of client confidentiality. In the surreal world that has come to characterize the state of psychology practice in Kuwait, "therapy" blog sites have now become an easy way for the uninitiated to flex their marketing muscles in the effort to attract client business. Hence, while attempting to showcase their 'therapy skills' over the internet, some uninitiates, not knowing what ethical standards may apply, cross the lines of client confidentiality by offering up too much identifying information about their clients. Such unethical behavior can become especially problematic when it involves social anxiety disorders or social phobia. This is because, by definition, the socially phobic client would be emotionally devastated by the trauma of reading about themselves on their "therapist's" blog--and that online betrayal of trust and public humiliation at the hands of their "therapist" would most likely precipitate a personal crisis situation for the already vulnerable client. Even at the procedural level, informed consent rules dictate that prior to divulging any confidential client information, the "therapist-blogger" would have to have had a signed release from the client, and if the client is a minor under 18 years of age, then the "therapist-blogger" would have to have a release of information from the parents before posting any of the child client's information on the internet. Even in the absence of professional regulation for mental health workers, the right to personal privacy is highly valued in Kuwait and ignorance is no excuse! Not knowing what the ethics are and not knowing what the rules are, the "therapist-blogger" may create a precarious situation for their hapless clients, themselves and their employer.
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