Both state law and professional ethics protect the private, confidential relationship between a client and psychologist. The assurance of confidentiality is a necessary requisite for developing a trusting therapeutic relationship. In general, the confidential information you disclose in the course of your treatment will not be revealed to anyone outside of my office (note: administrative helpers are trained to securely manage confidential information; they are not privvy to session content). However, there are a few exceptions to this general principle that I like to make sure my clients understand. In certain instances, the dictates of professional ethics or state law, may require me to disclose information revealed in therapy. The exceptions to confidentiality are as follows:
- If there is good reason to suspect that a child, elderly person, or dependent adult is in danger of being abused or neglected, I must report it to the authorities.
- If a client is assessed to be in serious danger of harming self, I will take actions necessary to protect the client.
- If a client is assessed as being a serious danger to the safety of others, I will take actions necessary to protect the other person and the client.
- If a client is assessed to be “gravely disabled” for mental health reasons, I will do whatever is necessary to help them get the help they need.
- The Patriot Act may require me to disclosure information.
- As part of legal proceedings involving a client, the client’s file could be subpoenaed (in this case, I will do my best to assert that our privileged communication be respected, but this could be overruled.