I am required to abide by professional standards & applicable laws. I do not disclose client confidences & information to any third party (except for materials shared during supervision or professional consultation) without a client’s written consent or waiver, except when mandated or permitted by law. Verbal authorization is not sufficient except in emergency situations.
State law mandates that I report to appropriate authorities suspected situations of (1) child abuse/neglect, (2) elder abuse/neglect, (3) abuse/neglect of the disabled or incompetent, and (4) instances of danger to self or others when reasonably necessary to protect the client or other parties from a clear and imminent threat of serious physical harm. In these situations, I am obligated to act, & cannot guarantee confidentiality. It is my policy to assert privileged communication on behalf of the client, and the right to consult with the client, if at all possible (except during an emergency), before mandated disclosure. I will attempt to apprise clients of all mandated disclosures as conceivable. In some situations, such as custody litigation, I may be ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction to release information without your consent.
Also, note that if you use third party insurers, such as health insurance policies, HMO or PPO plans, or EAP programs, you must sign a release of information, & information may be disclosed, depending on the arrangement with the third party. Any material obtained from a minor client may be shared with the client’s parent or guardian. Otherwise, when working with couples, families, or groups, I cannot disclose any information outside the treatment context without a written authorization from all individuals competent to sign such authorization. For example, in most cases I cannot release any information about either or both spouses I have seen for couples/marital therapy without signed authorizations from both spouses.
When working with a family or couple, information shared by individuals in sessions where other family members are not present must be held in confidence (exceptions are noted above) unless all individuals involved sign written waivers at the outset of therapy. Clients may refuse to sign such a waiver, but should be aware that maintaining confidentiality in individual sessions during couple or family therapy could impede or even prevent a positive outcome to therapy.