Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: Confidentiality

Confidential InformationMost of what occurs and is spoken about in therapy is confidential. A therapist cannot reveal what is discussed in therapy to a family member or anyone else who may want to have access to the information. There are, however, some basic limitations to this general rule. Confidentiality must legally be broken if a client expresses intention to kill themselves or someone else. In such cases, confidentiality must be broken in order to ensure the safety of the person involved. In addition, if a client reports incidents of child abuse, elder abuse, or abuse of a disabled adult, this information must be reported to the authorities in order to ensure safety.

If there is court or legal involvement, there could be some limitations to confidentiality as well. This varies from situation to situation and is best addressed directly with the therapist. Finally, if a client uses their health insurance to pay for their visits, there are some limits to confidentially. The insurance company often asks for basic information such as diagnosis, type of therapy conducted, treatment goals, and progress in therapy in order to pay for the sessions. This also varies from insurance company to insurance company and is best addressed directly with the therapist to determine what is true for your insurance coverage.

Confidentiality between minor clients and parents is another issue that may vary from situation to situation. Most therapists will inform children, adolescents, and parents that what the minor reveals in therapy will remain confidential between the therapist and the minor unless there are safety issues involved or the minor gives consent for the information to be shared with the parents. This is typically done to help build an alliance and trust between the therapist and the minor. Different circumstances will warrant varying degrees of involvement by the parents and thus, should be addressed directly with the therapist.

This site cannot be used to initiate emergency contact. We cannot respond on-line to crisis situations. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

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Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255