Trust is a cornerstone of the client-therapist relationship. Some people feel uncertain about going to therapy because they’re afraid a therapist will judge them or share what they say with others. If you’re hesitant about going to therapy because of confidentiality concerns, knowing there are laws and a code of ethics that therapists are required to adhere to can help put your mind at ease.
Part of the code of ethics of psychology is confidentiality, and there are also formal laws and regulations designed to protect your privacy. Therapists have specific training in what’s expected of them professionally when providing counseling to clients. Good therapists understand therapy is most beneficial when clients are comfortable sharing openly with them. If you’re concerned about confidentiality, don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk about it with your therapist.
Any exceptions to the confidentiality rule are for your safety and the safety of others. If someone is a threat to themselves or others, a therapist must report it. For example, if a client is suicidal, harming themselves or threatening to harm others, hospitalization may be recommended to monitor them and keep them safe. A therapist will also work with friends and family to help someone who’s struggling get the resources they need and develop a support plan to help them remain stable.
Therapists are also required to report child abuse or neglect. Child protective services or law enforcement may be notified to investigate allegations of child abuse. If a minor is in therapy and tells their therapist they are engaging in risky behavior, the therapist may inform the patient’s parent or guardian.
Therapists may also be required to release information by court order. Laws vary from state to state. When you first begin, setting ground rules is vital, especially in family or couples counseling.
HIPAA and Therapy
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, outlines when and if your therapist is permitted to discuss your treatment with others. If you’re able to make decisions for yourself but want your family involved in your care, your therapist may share information with them.
HIPAA also allows some information involving medication to be shared with a family member who accompanies you to an appointment. For instance, if there are side effects to medication that are important to look out for, your therapist may share that with your loved one. If you’re incapacitated or unable to make decisions for yourself, under HIPAA regulations, your therapist may share relevant information with your immediate family or partner.
For more than 10 years, therapists at Kayenta Therapy have been helping people develop the skills they need to find healing and personal growth. Contact a therapist directly to schedule an appointment and learn more today.