Ethics and Information Technology

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 61–71 | Cite as

On-line professionals

  • S. Matthews


Psychotherapy and counselling services are now available on-line, and expanding rapidly. Yet there appears almost no ethical analysis of this on-line mode of delivery of such professional services. In this paper I present such an analysis by considering the limitations on-line contact imposes on the nature of the professional–client relationship. The analysis proceeds via the contrast between the face-to-face case and the on-line case. At the core of the problem must be the recognition that on-line interaction imposes a physical barrier largely permitting only those disclosures of self we choose to make available, and greatly restricting the range of involuntary features and behaviours. I show why this is problematic, first, for the development of a close professional–client relationship, with particular emphasis on such failures as diagnosis and monitoring of the patient. Second I describe the importance of the development of professional character, and of how the on-line environment fails to provide a context for such character traits to emerge and develop.


Domestic Violence Professional Character Moral Emotion Moral Commitment Client Relationship 
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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (An ARC funded Special Research Centre)Charles Sturt University, and University of Melbourne and the Australian National University, School of Humanities, Charles Sturt UniversityWagga WaggaAustralia

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