Are psychologists supposed to break confidentiality (please read)?

Discussion in 'I Have a Question...' started by LynnD, Nov 5, 2012.

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  1. LynnD

    LynnD Well-Known Member

    I had been seeing a psychologist named W., who would only see me with mom. The sessions were supposed to be about me "improving" myself, When mom would bring up problems, I would point out the reason for the problem, but if it involved mom, she would deny having any fault in it. Unfortunately, W. is a friend of my mom, and has only ever listened to mom. I had met with W. once by myself, and told her about issues with my mom, figuring she would not tell mom. I never said anything or implied anything about harming myself or others, so she had no reason to tell any of this to mom. I met with her in February 2012, then in September 2012, in her last week of working before she left to go to another place in the country, mom made an appointment with her to talk to her alone. This was W.'s last week of working at the clinic; and I may be wrong but it looks like the only possible reason as to why she would do this, she went and told my mom about the issue I was having with her (my mom), particularly mom's drinking. I had told W. thata this was to be kept confidential, but obviously she did not think it should be, yet when mom has met with her by herself and talked about me, W. had never once told me what they talked about. W. is now gone and I am now seeing another psychologist (M.) at a different clinic, and M. doesn't want anything to do with mom, and when I inquired about M. telling mom anything I say to this person, the psychologist said they wouldn't unless I expressed harming myself or someone else. I told M. what W. did and was told that is not acceptable and I should report it, but that is useless now since W. isn't even in the same part of the world as I am in. To me what W. did was sly, and I have a hard time trusting people now, I always had a feeling that W. was not a person you could trust with confidential things, and they said your intuition is usually right, and mine was since when I did try to trust her, look what happened.

    M. is aware of my difficulty with trusting others and hopes to gain my trust because she knows I am not telling everything, but right now I don't know if I will be able to trust a psychologist ever again, I had been seeing W. since 2008 (I never wanted to see her at all, I didn't like her from the moment I met her; mom knew her since 1992), and that was basically a session to not look at the whole story and see how some people MIGHT be mistaken....But I learned how to act and just pretend to agree with everything, even though 70% of what was said to me was not right, I had asked M. about this, I told M. the issues with W. when I started seeing M., which was unfortunately after W. left.
  2. youRprecious!

    youRprecious! Antiquities Friend

    I am sorry for that situation you found yourself in Lynn - there were too many things going on there with W. being a friend of your mom, for the outcome to be truly beneficial to you, her client. This should have been her main focus and concern, but obviously her loyalties were - at least - divided, and in a professional environment this should not have been the case. W. should have been aware of the likelihood of her not being impartial, and should have suggested you see a psych who does not know your mom.

    Which is what you have now. I reckon if you bring this up as an issue with M. he/she will be able to help you put this episode in the "experience" basket - and this will help you be more cautious about 'who' you tell 'what' to. There is nothing wrong with caution - it does not have to be seen as having a hard time trusting. Try not to project your experience with W. and your mom onto future psychs and relationships. What happened happened, but it was a one-off situation which was unfortunate for you honey, but also a good learning curve :)
  3. pickwithaustin

    pickwithaustin Staff Alumni

    If you are in the United States then no, the doctor cannot discuss anything you say with him with your mom unless you have signed something stating that he may do so. This relates to HIPPA laws that, if violated, could cost a doctor their license, penalty by fine and up to imprisonment. I know that most medical professionals take this very seriously - if not just for the moral reasons, then for fear of getting into legal trouble.
  4. LynnD

    LynnD Well-Known Member

    I live in Canada, which laws seem to be the complete opposite from the United States. I have never been to the United States, but from things I have been read about bullying, confidentiality, etc. the United States actually implements rules against these things while Canada doesn't do anything, and I'm just saying that from my experiences.
  5. roksy

    roksy Well-Known Member

    I agree with urPrecious. This is unprofessional behaviour from W. W. was definitely out of line in trying to consult you and your mother at the same time. Why would W. tell your mom about your private conversation with her? Most therapists (I say most because there might be outliers) will adhere to the confidentiality.
  6. LynnD

    LynnD Well-Known Member

    I hope that wherever W. is working now she does what she did to me MUCH SOONER than leaving a few days later and I hope whoever she does it to reports her. I doubt anything would be done but if someone reported her it would be good. I can't since she no longer works inthe part of the country (Canada) that I live in.
  7. Moat

    Moat Banned Member

    Just in reply to your original question (I apologise) but the only exception to the rule of when they can break patient-doctor confidentiality is if they genuinely believe that you are going to be a threat to yourself or to someone else (in the case of violence, suicidal tendencies) in which case, they are not only allowed, but required by law to contact the police and hospital staff as well as mental health institutions to ensure that not only you are safe from harm, but other people as well.
  8. Sadeyes

    Sadeyes Staff Alumni

    Although W's behavior was questionable, it is not her therapy, but yours...she might have violated your trust, but she is not the symbol of psychotherapy and her questionable ways will catch up with her...focus on your care, let your new therapist in as much as you can and move on...the best way to revenge W is to become a wise and giving psychotherapist yourself
  9. LynnD

    LynnD Well-Known Member

    Thanks all. At least I know that I was right, that W. had no right to do what she did.
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