Psychotherapists understand that for people to feel comfortable talking about private and revealing information, they need a safe place to talk about anything they'd like, without fear of that information leaving the room. They take your privacy very seriously. In general, the law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and a psychotherapist. Information is not disclosed without written permission. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. Exceptions include:
- Suspected child abuse or dependant adult or elder abuse: The therapist is required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s: The therapist must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
- If a client intends to harm himself or herself: The therapist will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, further measures may be taken without their permission in order to ensure their safety.
EMPLOYER / EMPLOYEE PRIVACY
Will my employer know I saw a psychotherapist if I use my company's insurance?
Employers don't receive information about the health services an employee receives, even if he or she uses company insurance.
Some companies offer employee assistance programs (EAPs), which offer mental health services to employees. Usually, the company simply provides the service but doesn't receive information about how each employee uses it. However, if you have any questions about privacy and your organization's EAP, talk to a human resources representative for more details.
What kind of information do I have to share about my psychotherapy treatment?
Privacy is your right as a patient or client. If you choose to tell your friends or family that you're seeing a therapist, you are free to do so. How much information you decide to share is up to you. Psychotherapists are ethically bound to protect your privacy regardless of what information you choose to share with others. For example, therapists typically won't connect with clients on social media sites, even if the client initiated the request.
Sometimes, psychotherapists find it helpful to discuss your concerns or behaviors with other people in your life. A therapist may want to interview your spouse to better understand what's going on in your home, for example. If a child is having trouble at school, the therapist may want to interview the child's teachers. But whether you involve others is completely up to you. Psychotherapists generally can't contact anyone else without your written consent.