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Confidentiality in Psychotherapy

 

 

 

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Suzanne Strisik, Ph.D.
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Confidentiality of information discussed in the course of therapy is of critical importance.  It is one of the factors that creates a psychologically safe environment within which a person can explore difficult aspects of their lives and their selves.  If there were no assurance of confidentiality, most people would be reluctant to share as much about themselves and would likely derive much less benefit from therapy.

Laws protect the confidential nature of the Psychologist-Patient relationship. The Psychologist will not release clinical information to anyone unless given written permission to do so by the patient.  However, there are a few exceptions which allow or require the release of confidential information.

1.) The Psychologist must act appropriately when there is danger to the patient or to another at the patient's hands.  This generally means that the Psychologist may involve others when necessary to protect the patient if suicidal, intends to harm another person, or is unable to provide self-care at a level necessary for basic survival.  State law also requires the report of abuse or neglect to a child, elder, or disabled person when there is reasonable belief that it has occurred.

2.) In response to a court order, the Psychologist must testify or release records.  A Psychologist does not release records or testify in response to a subpoena unless the patient or patientís guardian has given written authorization to do so.

3.) As professionals, we do consult with one another from time to time.  Any clinical material is conveyed without identification whenever possible.  At other times, it will be necessary (for example, if another therapist is covering calls during a vacation).  Finally, case material is sometimes used in training, research, writing, etc.  This is always without identifying information and with great care and respect for your privacy.

Any other release of information requires your written authorization.

 

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