Does My Therapist Keep My Information Private?

Limits Of Confidentiality (for adults).

Many people go into therapy and they are worried about their privacy. There are only certain circumstances that a therapist is legally allowed to share your information. Other than those situations (listed below), all of your information is private and the therapist cannot share your information with any other person. Examples of times that a therapist may need to “break confidentiality” and talk to someone about what you have said in therapy is when you have talked about wanting to hurt or kill yourself or someone else, you have reported child abuse, elder abuse (someone over the age of 65) or abuse of someone with a developmental disability or you have signed a release of information stating that the therapist can talk to someone else. Another reason that a therapist may talk about you outside of session is when a court subpoenas your record (which generally only happens if you commit a crime or when you bring your own mental health up as an issue in a court case).

Other than these times, a therapist is not allowed to talk about you outside of your therapy session. They are not even allowed to acknowledge that they know you to someone else. I explain to my clients that confidentiality goes so far that I won’t even say hi to them in public (unless my client comes up to me first to say hi, then OF COURSE, I would say hello to them in return). This privacy is so important so that you do not have to worry about someone else knowing your business (even knowing you are in therapy is “your business” to share, and not for the therapist to disclose).

You can talk to your therapist about concerns you have with privacy, but the law protects you from the therapist talking about you without your permission. This is so important so that you can feel comfortable to not only participate in therapy, but to really be able to trust that you can talk about any issue you want without it being broadcast to others.

When a therapist meets with a child, there are specific things under “child abuse” that may be reportable. You should consult with your prospective (or current) therapist about reporting laws if you are bringing your child into therapy.

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