Privacy and Confidentiality are the Cornerstones
Whether you are seeking psychotherapy, leadership coaching, or organizational consultation, your privacy will be carefully guarded. This is a critical issue in professional ethics, and in psychotherapy, your privacy is also protected by law.
I will provide you a written copy of confidentiality policies when we meet, and will gladly answer any questions you have about confidentiality and privacy at any time.
Protecting your confidentiality means that I will not share personal health information or identifying information about you with anyone else. In practice, that means I won’t acknowledge to anyone else that I know you. (By the way, this also means that if we run into each other in a public place, I will not say hello or acknowledge you. This isn’t meant to be rude, but is to honor your privacy. If you choose to say hello, I will respond, but it’s up to you).
At some point during our work together, you may want your me to share information or give an update about our work to someone important to you, such as a family member or your physician. By law, I can do so only with your written permission. It cannot and will not happen unless youwant to to.
Likewise, at some point you might want someone important to you (such as a spouse or significant other) to join in for one or more sessions. Again, that is something that can happen, but only withyour consent and your written permission. It cannot and will not happen unless you want it to.
Limits to Confidentiality
There are rare situations in which the law may require an exception to confidentiality. These circumstances are limited to:
* Suspected past or present abuse or neglect of children, or at-risk adults or elders.
* If the therapist has reason to suspect the client is in immediate danger of harming him/herself or harming another person or the general public, and this danger cannot be adequately reduced without notifying emergency personnel.
An important note:
I have worked with many clients over the years who have experienced thoughts or harming or killing themselves at one time or another. I recognize that most times, such thoughts and feelings are a sign of profound personal pain, and they are a signal that we can use to focus our work. Most often, the thoughts do not indicate an immediate threat to actual physical safety. Thus, the great majority of the time, such thoughts do not require any change to standard confidentiality. Thoughts of suicide or self-injury are most often like a thermometer reading indicating that the person is in anguish and is in particular need of skillful and caring support. If you have such thoughts or feelings, it is crucially important to the therapy process that you feel able and willing to tell me. Most often, our approach will not require involvement of third parties. Instead, we will focus on collaborative exploration of the thoughts and feelings, why they are occurring, and how to care for yourself so as to reduce the underlying pain.