Can A Therapist Break Confidentiality? A Mental Health Expert Weighs In - Health Digest
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Can A Therapist Break Confidentiality? A Mental Health Expert Weighs In – Health Digest


Dr. Santan goes on to explain that a therapist would be able to break patient confidentiality in the event of an emergency. For example, confidentiality could be broken if “the therapist has reasonable suspicion that the patient is a danger to themselves or to others (suicidal or homicidal),” Dr. Santan states. The same is true if “the patient reports information about the abuse of a child, an elderly person, a disabled individual, or someone else who is vulnerable to abuse, neglect, or exploitation who may require protection. Therapists are mandatory reporters for these issues.”

Dr. Santan further notes that therapists sometimes work alongside other practitioners to provide the best possible care for a patient. “Most therapists practice with other mental health professionals and administrative staff,” he says. In these cases, a therapist may disclose a patient’s private health information for billing, scheduling, or supervision or consultation purposes. “All of the mental health professionals are bound by the same rules of confidentiality, however, and all staff members are given training about protecting patient’s privacy and have agreed not to release any information outside of the practice without a patient’s permission.”

In closing, Dr. Santan states that because confidentiality can be uniquely challenging with couples or family therapy, he has protocol in place to best address these concerns. “I have a rule in my practice that I don’t keep secrets during couples and family therapy. Patients know and expect that anything shared by the individual can be disclosed to other family members.”


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