WILL MY COUNSELOR REALLY KEEP MY INFORMATION CONFIDENTIAL?
How do you really know that the information, stories and hardships shared with a mental health counselor will not be shared with others?
The law protects the privacy of ALL communications between a client and a counselor. It is important to note that the “all” really means all here. Communication in face to face sessions, tele-health sessions, texts, phone calls, emails, faxes, in person communication outside of session, literally all communications from once you become a client to forever - all kept confidential. And yes I do mean forever. Most licensing boards and confidentially laws extend past the death of a client. Therefore meaning if Bob Bobberson was my client from 2016-2018, I will still keep his information (and the fact that he was a client of mine) for my ears and eyes only and in 50 years it will still be the same, and when he passes away, still the same.
Though Louisville is not a small town, it by no means is a large city. Therefore, there is the potential for you to cross paths with your counselor outside of the therapy hour. Your counselor will likely discuss their policy surrounding this during your intake appointment, but if they don’t - then ask them about it to plan for future happenings. If you do run into each other outside of the therapy hour in the community, your therapist will most likely will not make it known that they know you (because even outside of session it is our duty to protect you). Suggestion to have this discussion with your counselor to see how they would handle situations such as this outside of session and plan accordingly.
Personally, if I see my clients at Kroger, Cherokee Park, a bar, the movies, etc. I act as if we have never met. This is not because I don’t want to smile at them or say hi to them, it is to protect my clients and their rights as a client of mine. I also want to ensure that they are not put in a situation of having to explain to a family member, friend or bystander how they know me. If my client makes the decision to interact with me in the community, that is their personal choice and I will follow their lead.
LIMITS TO CONFIDENTIALITY In most situations, a counselor can only release information about your professional relationship if you sign a written authorization form (ROI).
But there are some situations in which counselors are legally obligated to take actions that they believe may be necessary to protect the client or others from harm. If such a situation arises, the counselor will limit disclosure to what is necessary in the given situation.
If the professional has reason to believe that a child or vulnerable adult is being neglected or abused, the law requires that the situation be reported to the appropriate state agency. If the counselor believes a client presents clear and substantial danger of harm to themselves or another/others, they are ethically obligated to take protective actions.
These actions may include contacting family members, seeking a higher level of care, notifying any potential victim(s), and notifying the police.
While this summary is designed to provide an overview of confidentiality and its limits, your counselor will review this with you during your first session and should also be written within the paperwork signed prior to your first session. Don’t hesitate to ask your therapist any questions about the laws of confidentiality. This is a very unique thing between your relationship with a counselor and someone else and needs to be clearly understood by all.
I am Shannon Gonter and I specialize in working with men and young adults. I am passionate about my career and want to work with you to create positive change. I also strive to create a counseling environment where men and young adults can relate, feel heard, and find new solutions to their negative patterns. Some issues that I most commonly work with are stress, relationship issues, difficulty saying “no” to others, difficulties recognizing emotions and emotionally connecting to others, anger, and intimacy issues, among others. The information and resources contained on this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to assess, diagnose, or treat any medical and/or mental health disease or condition. The use of this website does not imply nor establish any type of therapist-client relationship. Furthermore, the information obtained from this site should not be considered a substitute for a thorough medical and/or mental health evaluation by an appropriately credentialed and licensed professional.