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Ethics... Exoploring Privacy and Confidentiality: Gray Areas
Ethics: Exploring Privacy & Confidentiality - Gray Areas!

Section 16
Ethics - "How much privacy are you guaranteed with counseling?"

CEU Question 21 | Ethics CEU Answer Booklet | Table of Contents
Psychologist CEs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs, Nurse CEUs

(The following is a consumer alert article)
Counselors and therapists like to keep both attendance at counseling, and the content of what is said, as private as possible, and for the most part, that is exactly what happens.

The law, however, doesn't guarantee privacy, and professional ethics also override confidentiality in certain situations. Below are some typical circumstances where confidentiality may be limited or not kept:
-Child abuse or neglect - current child abuse or neglect must be reported
-A threat of imminent harm to self or others
-A subpoena from criminal or civil court
-If you are attending counseling as a condition of an outside authority - for example your employer has made counseling a condition of retaining your job; or it is a condition for keeping your children or getting them back.

All professionals should advise you of the conditions of confidentiality the first time you see them, and will be able to explain how they handle each of the conditions. If you are on an employee assistance plan, for example, the counselor may only have to verify attendance and not the disclose content of your sessions. They can also share with you any disclosures they make or limit those disclosures.

If you are facing or there's the possibility of a court case (for example historical child abuse or child custody hearings), please consult a lawyer as soon as possible. In Canada, how the court handles counseling files has been reviewed in a number of recent court cases, and it's very important that you get the latest information.

Again, be aware that most counselors are very careful about how they handle and record information and how they handle disclosures of any kind. Although there has been a lot of publicity about the lack of confidentiality in certain areas, like court cases on historical abuse, in general, disclosure is rare.

Any concerns around confidentiality should be brought up promptly with your counselor http://www.cisp.org/imp/november_99/11_99gellman-insight.htm.

See what the Internet is telling your clients about confidentiality...http://www3.bc.sympatico.ca/lakescounsel/privacy.htm.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 21
All professionals should advise clients of the conditions of _______ in the first session. To select and enter your answer go to Ethics CEU Answer Booklet.

Personal Reflection Exercise #4
The preceding section contained a consumer alert regarding counseling confidentiality. What is your opinion about providing this information to clients along with three case study examples?

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Ethics CEU Answer Booklet for this course
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Psychologist CEUs, Social Worker CEUs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs, Nurse CEUs
Ethics: Exploring Privacy & Confidentiality - Gray Areas!

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