Confidentiality

Confidentiality in therapy is paramount and may be of significant concern for some clients. For my part the handling of confidential materials between sessions is rigorously as well as constantly bound to the Ethical Framework for Good Practice in Counselling & Psychotherapy as elaborated by the BACP (British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy). Issues of confidentiality, as encapsulated in the list below, is for my pracice a matter of:

1. Being trustworthy: honouring the trust placed in the practitioner (also referred to as fidelity): Practitioners who adopt the fundamental principle of being trustworthy regard confidentiality as an obligation arising from the client’s trust.

2. Autonomy: respect for the client’s right to be self-governing: Practitioners who respect their clients’ autonomy protect privacy; protect confidentiality; normally make any disclosures of confidential information conditional on the consent of the person concerned; and inform the client in advance of foreseeable conflicts of interest or as soon as possible after such conflicts become apparent.

3. Providing a good standard of practice and care: All clients are entitled to good standards of practice and care from their practitioners in counselling and psychotherapy. Good standards of practice and care require professional competence; good relationships with clients and colleagues; and commitment to being ethically mindful through observance of professional ethics.

4. Keeping trust: The practice of counselling and psychotherapy depends on gaining and honouring the trust of clients. Keeping trust requires careful attention to client consent and confidentiality.

5. Respecting privacy and confidentiality:

  • Respecting clients’ privacy and confidentiality are fundamental requirements for keeping trust and respecting client autonomy. The professional management of confidentiality concerns the protection of personally identifiable and sensitive information from unauthorised disclosure. Disclosure may be authorised by client consent or the law. Any disclosures of client confidences should be undertaken in ways that best protect the client’s trust and respect client autonomy.

  • Communications made on the basis of client consent do not constitute a breach of confidentiality. Client consent is the ethically preferred way of resolving any dilemmas over confidentiality.

  • Exceptional circumstances may prevent the practitioner from seeking client consent to a breach of confidence due to the urgency and seriousness of the situation, for example, preventing the client causing serious harm to self or others. In such circumstances the practitioner has an ethical responsibility to act in ways which balance the client’s right to confidentiality against the need to communicate with others. Practitioners should expect to be ethically accountable for any breach of confidentiality.

  • Confidential information about clients may be shared within teams where the client has consented or knowingly accepted a service on this basis; the information can be adequately protected from unauthorised further disclosures; and the disclosure enhances the quality of service available to clients or improves service delivery.

  • Practitioners should be willing to be accountable to their clients and to their profession for their management of confidentiality in general and particularly for any disclosures made without their client’s consent. Good records of existing policy and practice and of situations where the practitioner has breached confidentiality without client consent, greatly assist ethical accountability. In some situations the law forbids the practitioner informing the client that confidential information has been passed to the authorities, nonetheless the practitioner remains ethically accountable to colleagues and the profession.

Of course I will do my best to answer any questions you may have regarding this particular code of ethics during the preliminary session.

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