In general, the privacy of all communications between a patient and a psychotherapist is protected by law, and your therapist can only release information about our work to others with your written permission. But there are a few exceptions.
In most legal proceedings, you have the right to prevent your therapist from providing any information about your treatment. In some legal proceedings, a judge may order my testimony if they determine that the issues demand it, and your therapist must comply with that court order.
There are some situations in which your therapist is legally obligated to take action to protect others from harm, even if they have to reveal some information about a patient’s treatment. For example, if your therapist believes that a child, adolescent, elderly person or disabled person is being abused or has been abused, they must make a report to the appropriate state agency.
If your therapist believes that a patient is threatening serious bodily harm to another, they may be required to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking hospitalization for the client. If the client threatens to harm themself your therapist may be obligated to seek hospitalization for them or to contact family members or others who can help provide protection. If a similar situation occurs in the course of your work here at ABHC, your therapist will attempt to fully discuss it with you before taking any action.
Your therapist may occasionally find it helpful to consult other professionals about a case. During a consultation, your therapist makes every effort to avoid revealing the identity of their clients. The consultant is also legally bound to keep the information confidential. Ordinarily, your therapist will not tell you about these consultations unless they believe that it is important to your work together.
Although this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality is intended to inform you about potential issues that could arise, it is important that we discuss any questions or concerns that you may have. Your therapist will be happy to discuss these issues with you and provide clarification when possible. However, if you need specific clarification or advice that your therapist is unable to provide, formal legal advice may be needed, as the laws governing confidentiality are quite complex and your therapist does not have the in-depth legal training of an attorney. If you request, ABHC will provide you with relevant portions or summaries of the state laws regarding these issues.
ABHC’s policies about confidentiality, as well as other information about your privacy rights, are fully described in a separate document entitled Notice of Privacy Practices. You have been provided with a copy of that document and we have discussed those issues. Please remember that you may reopen the conversation at any time during your work here.
While privacy in therapy is crucial to successful progress, parental involvement can also be essential. It is our policy not to provide treatment to a child under age 14 unless they agree that their therapist can share whatever information they consider necessary with a parent. For children 14 and older, we request an agreement between the client and the parents allowing the therapist to share general information about treatment progress and attendance, as well as a treatment summary upon completion of therapy. All other communication will require the child’s agreement, unless the therapist believes there is a safety concern (see also above section on Confidentiality for exceptions), in which case your therapist will make every effort to notify the child of my intention to disclose information ahead of time and make every effort to handle any objections that arise.