What is Confidentiality and Informed Consent in Counselling?
Updated: May 24
Is Counselling Confidential?
When you meet with your clinician for sessions one of the most important factors shaping your therapeutic relationship is trust. That sense of trust is essential as it allows you to speak freely, openly, and comfortably about what is going on. Your clinicians will take every necessary step to ensure your privacy is respected. During your first session with your clinician they will take some time to talk to you about confidentiality and answer any other questions you may have. An important note is that while we will do everything we possibly can to ensure your confidentiality, there are still limits to it. When it comes to the limits of confidentiality they are very specific scenarios of when we would have to disclose information.
What are the limits to confidentiality?
While we will do everything in our power to protect your privacy, there may be times where this not possible. I do want to highlight that even when we do disclose information it is not to harm you. We are still acting in your best interest and will always act in your best interest. I know this might be a little unsettling knowing that there are limits but I will highlight them and break them down a bit more for you. Remember, you can always discuss this with your clinician if you have more in depth questions or just want to chat about it a little more.
Some of the limits of confidentiality occur when there is reasonable grounds for a clinician to believe there is an imminent risk of danger to either yourself or to others. There are very specific guidelines put in place to measure the risk of danger before confidentiality is breached. Following the guidelines put in place help us to protect you and others and it will be done in the least intrusive way possible. Another limit that is very similar, is if there is reasonable grounds for a clinician to believe a child is need of protection due to physical harm or neglect. Other limits of confidentiality are when information is required for legal proceedings or when required by other aspects of the law.
I want to highlight that just because there are limits to confidentiality, that does not mean you should feel like you can’t talk to your clinician! As I previously mentioned, these limits are put in place to protect you and not to hurt you. During your sessions, you should feel comfortable enough to disclose any and everything that you want to talk about.
What if I want someone to have access to my information?
Just like there are times where your clinician may be required to disclose information, there are times where you may want us to disclose information. This could be to a doctor, for insurance, regarding work or school, or just to allow another friend or family member to receive information. If this was ever the case, all you have to do is let us know and we can send over what we call a “release of information” form over. With this form, we obtain your signature and more importantly your informed consent to release information to the person you have indicated on the form.
This could be something as general as allowing a family member to receive your invoices or as detailed as providing your doctor with more in-depth information. It just deepens on what you allow us to do!
At the end of the day, our main goal is to keep you safe and ensure you feel supported and heard. We never want you to feel as though you can not talk to us about your experiences or feelings. When we inform you of the limits of confidentiality we are doing it so you know what to expect if that were to ever happen, we don’t want you to feel blindsided! If you ever have any questions or just want to learn more you can always ask your clinician for more information and they will be happy to explain things to you in more detail. The more comfortable you feel, the more you will gain from your sessions.
As always, we are always here to answer any questions you may have and to lend a shoulder for you to lean on when needed.
Thanks for reading,