Confidentiality is one of the most important components between a client and psychotherapist. Successful therapy requires a high degree of trust with highly sensitive subject matter that is usually not discussed anywhere but the therapist’s office. Every therapist should provide a written copy of their confidential disclosure agreement, and you can expect that what you discuss “in session” will not be shared with anyone. This is called “informed consent.” Sometimes, however, you may want your therapist to share information or give an update to someone on your health care team (your physician, naturopath, attorney, etc.), but by law your therapist cannot release this information without obtaining your written permission.
State law and professional ethics require therapists to maintain confidentiality except for the following situations:
- Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, adults, and elders must be reported to the authorities, including Child Protective Services and law enforcement, based on information provided by the client or collateral sources.
- If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is seriously in danger of harming him/herself or has threatened to harm another person.