Artificial intelligence (AI) is when machines or software can do things that usually need human intelligence, like thinking, learning, making decisions, and talking. AI can be useful and helpful in many areas, such as health care, education, business, and entertainment. But AI can also cause some problems and ethical issues, especially for counselling services.
Counselling services are when professionals help people, couples, families, or groups deal with different personal, relationship, or mental health issues. Counselling services usually need human interaction and communication between a counsellor and a client, based on trust, empathy, respect, and confidentiality. Counselling services can be done in person, online, or through other media.
AI can make counselling services better by making them more available, affordable, convenient, and efficient. For example, AI can help counsellors reach more clients who may have trouble getting traditional services, because of distance, cost, stigma, or time limits. AI can also help counsellors do some tasks faster and easier, like booking appointments, collecting data, giving feedback, or making reports. AI can also help counsellors customize their services and make them fit the specific needs and wants of each client.
But AI can also cause some challenges and risks for counselling services. For example:
- AI may not have the human qualities that are important for good counselling, like empathy, compassion, intuition, creativity, and emotion. AI may not understand the subtle and complicated parts of human communication and behaviour, like sarcasm, humour, irony, or context. AI may not respond well to the emotional states and needs of the clients.
- AI may cause ethical worries about the privacy and security of the clients’ data and information. AI may not protect the confidentiality and consent of the clients who use online or digital platforms for counselling. AI may also be hacked, changed, or misused by people who may have bad intentions or goals.
- AI may make the counsellor and the client feel less personal or connected. AI may reduce the human contact and connection that are essential for building rapport and trust in counselling. AI may also create a power difference or a dependency relationship between the counsellor and the client. AI may affect the counsellor’s judgement or decision making without them knowing or agreeing.
- AI may cause ethical problems or conflicts for the counsellor’s professional identity and responsibility. AI may question the counsellor’s role and skill in providing quality and effective services to their clients. AI may also question the counsellor’s values and principles in following the ethical codes and standards of their profession.
So AI can cause some challenges for counselling services that need to be solved. Counsellors need to know about the possible benefits and risks of using AI in their work and make smart decisions based on their professional judgement and ethical rules. Counsellors also need to work with other people involved, like clients, researchers, developers, regulators, and policymakers, to make sure that AI is used in a responsible and ethical way that respects the dignity and rights of the clients and makes counselling services better and more effective.