Counselling Dilemma: Gambling Addiction and Social Media
You have been working as a gambling addictions counsellor for Relationships Australia for the past 5 years. You are active in the community and attend regular network meetings in your local area. One evening at a regular meeting you run into a previous client, Kobe. Kobe informs you that he has been in recovery for three years and has now completed a counselling degree. Kobe has started a support group for recovering gambling addicts and has a very active social media profile. He invites you to join his Facebook group and to follow him on Twitter. He also shares that he feels that addictions are the result of people not having faith and that faith in God and Christianity is what got him through. He wants to help as many people as he can to find their faith and quit gambling.
How would you handle this situation? Would you engage with him on social media?
I would give him positive feedback and use a strength-based approach. For example, I would acknowledge his achievements in his recovery journey. I would say that it’s great to hear that he has completed his counselling degree and that he is so passionate about supporting others on a similar journey. However, I would not engage with him on social media as I personally don’t agree with his beliefs in regards to faith in God and that addictions are the result of people not having faith. Also, I don’t want my own clients to think that I support these beliefs. So I would thank him for inviting me, but I would say that I think everyone needs to find their own way of how to deal with their addiction. So unfortunately I cannot support him on social media as I would be faced with an ethical dilemma. I would thank him for his understanding. I could discuss my concerns with another professional such as my colleagues or supervisor. It’s good to debrief and get a second opinion from another counsellor.
Since I’m an active member of the community and value my relationships with the others who attend the meetings, I would want to keep those relationships positive by supporting the people there, including Kobe. The ethical dilemma for me would arise because I don’t necessarily like the idea of organised religion and there are elements of the Christian belief that I disagree with, so his posts may annoy me depending on what he is posting about. On the other hand, refusing his offer to follow his social media page could jeopardise my relationship with him. He may get offended and talk badly about me in the community which could hurt my relationships with the others in the network.
I would follow Kobe on social media, and be aware that if he posts something that I strongly disagree with that I am in the public eye and need to be careful of how I react to it. I would not comment anything negative on his social media page or get into any debates. If I liked something that he posted I would ‘’like’’ or share it on social media, but if I disagreed with his posts or found them aggravating, I would continue following him but just block his posts so that they wouldn’t show up in my newsfeed unless I unblocked them again (people can’t see if you’ve blocked their posts or not).
Kobe’s faith in God and Christianity has no relevance to his invitation. It was his chosen faith that got him through. Well done! The offer is for you to find your own faith, your belief system religious or otherwise. I would be happy to join him to share my faith, in me.
I would strongly support Kobe, his faith got him through, I would not become friends on social media as I feel that it would be unprofessional. I would get a whole lot more personal information from this activity but then where does the professional and the personal line begin and end.