Does Your Loved One Need Care? Understand Confidentiality

The Barber Garden: Shrub Rose
The Barber Garden: Shrub Rose (Photo credit: bill barber)

Many families and friends express frustration with confidentiality when healthcare information is needed. Confidentiality is defined as your legal and moral right to privacy in a therapeutic setting.

A therapist has an obligation to protect the rights, confidence, and information shared in a therapy session from the public (even family members or spouses). Great controversy has arisen over the years regarding these tight restrictions. Parents, spouses, caregivers, therapists and other healthcare providers all have had difficulty with the legal components of confidentiality.

In the event an individual in therapy is perceived as needing intervention, there are three exceptions to breaking confidentiality:

  1. If an individual threatens to harm someone else
  2. If an individual threatens to harm him/herself
  3. If an individual reports that he/she has been abused

Some therapists use their discretion in also reporting promiscuous behaviors of adolescents, extreme drug and alcohol abuse, or other risky behaviors.

Because of these things, I encourage you to make a list of questions regarding confidentiality and ask a mental health professional to discuss it with you. Each case is different and confidentiality is a slippery slope.

Read more at Caregivers, Family, & Friends.

All the best