Therapist Confidentiality

Discussion in 'Therapy and Medication' started by Waterfall55, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Waterfall55

    Waterfall55 Well-Known Member

    Hi - I know therapists can break confidentiality if they believe you to be an immediate danger to yourself or others. But does the law also state that they have to tell you that they have contacted others - ie that they broke your confidentiality? Does anyone know? Thanks in advance for any information you can provide.

    (This is a theoretical question only - no one I know is in immediate danger).
  2. total eclipse

    total eclipse SF Friend Staff Alumni

    i don't think they have to tell you if they broke confidentiality you were in danger to yourself
    They cannot break confidentiality without getting your permission to tell anything to anyone a signed form has to be filled in before any information is transferred on any other occasion.
    I do think they do talk amongst their colleagues though i really do but they do not use names but they are able to get across who they are talking about without do this. Hope this helps
  3. ashtar

    ashtar Well-Known Member

    Agree with violet. No one therapist can break confidentiality without having consulted a superviser and without your consent. If its an emergency, ie you told them you had a suicide plan for tonight, they can and will breach confideniality even without your knowledge but you will be supported by them throughout the process. You can choose not to give any information of yourself (number or address) to therapist in a few countries so they cant really break confidentiality because they wouldnt know where to look for you. I know in the UK you have to provide them with correct details
  4. Madam Mim

    Madam Mim Well-Known Member

    This might be useful:

    I know that my counsellor can break confidentiality if I am perceived to be in danger, or a danger to others, but he would always inform me if this was to happen. I know that he does talk to his colleagues about me, but not by name.

    Once, when I was freaking out about what notes he has about me, he told me that he keeps very cryptic records, so that if the police or a court ever ask for files as evidence, they will need him present to dicifer them. He does this so the record can be straight and they don't misinterpret what he's written.

  5. sinnssykdom

    sinnssykdom Banned Member

    A lot of times they discuss patients with other colleagues, not to offend or piss off the patient but to get advice and another opinion on the situation. I know the few counselors/therapists i've been to they've always had to have meetings every so often to discuss with one another the status and what not of each individual patient. Now this is with the public thing, i don't know if they'd do this with a private practice where they were the only one or a few people working in an office. However in a public system where it's essentially free i think most have 'meetings' about patients. However all this confidential within the group.

    Also most of the time if they do this they will usually let you know. I mean i don't think they go into detail about the person but they give the general situation of the patient to get further advice and possible resources.
  6. Jenny

    Jenny Staff Alumni


    As far as I know a therapist is able to break confidentiality if you're perceived to be at risk to yourself or others, and this should be discussed with you in your first meeting with them.

    They should also try to speak to you before breaking this confidentiality, i.e. if they decide to contact your doctor or someone, then they should make an effort to tell you about it before they do so. That's my understanding anyway and is what my ex therapist said she'd do if need be.

  7. warrabinda

    warrabinda Well-Known Member

    i think a good therapist would discuss it with you if it's appropriate.

    scenario 1: if you call a therapist and state that you are going to harm yourself and hang up, they would call the ambos/police. if they didn't know where you were they would alert family members.

    scenario 2: if you are in therapy at the time they will discuss their actions and decisions with you in person and will also sometimes make the calls to appropriate services/hosp while you are there.

    their priority is your safety and wellbeing.

    also make the clarification that it's usually in the context where you are in immediate danger to yourself that they would break confidentiality. i've long told my psychologist that i've felt suicidal but she's never broken confidentiality because i wasn't going to immediately act on it.

    as professionals, we usually discuss patients/clients to get feedback/in supervision to ensure we have acted appropriately. yeah sometimes when someone is being extremely difficult to work with we complain to each other - thats because we're humans. it doesn't mean we don't care or are being malicious. but the majority of time we discuss patients is because we need o be kept in check!
    hope that helped?