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Can the psychologist tell others what you explain?

Can the psychologist tell others what you explain?

April 29, 2024

One of the aspects of psychotherapy that generate more suspicion is the issue of confidentiality. Can the psychologist explain to the third person what the patient or client tells him?

As we will see, except in an exceptional case, the answer is a resounding "no". And no, this is not a simple moral norm that psychologists tend to follow because everyone thinks alike. As we will see, behind the profession there is a code of ethics that must be complied with for a series of very important reasons.

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Is what the psychologist tells confidential?

In the course of a series of psychotherapy sessions, it is inevitable that you talk about sensitive topics: traumatic experiences, family conflicts, feelings that are understood or that are socially disregarded, etc. It is something that is part of the reason why therapy has reason to be; even disorders with more limited effects, such as certain specific phobias, give rise to moments that we would not explain to anyone and that we do not want them to come to light .

The same happens if the problems to be treated are not disorders proper; if there is something that makes us feel bad and motivates us to go to a psychologist's office, that is still confidential information.

And what happens if what we seek is not to deal with a personal problem, but to meet a new need (for example, to learn a new skill for which we must train together with a professional to advise)? In these cases it is also very likely that you will talk about personal issues. Since the cognitive restructuring related to self-esteem and self-concept, for example, it demands to deepen in the feelings and beliefs more ingrained of the client .

Now, these are the reasons why clients and patients are interested in having a rigid discipline of confidentiality regarding what happens in the psychologist's office.

Its existence already justify that the professional felt the moral obligation not to tell anything to other people, because although it is offering a service, does not stop empathizing at any time. Now, this is not the only reason why psychologists self-impose the obligation to make the information does not leave your query . The other half of this obligation is deontological and professional, not individual, but collective.

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The principle of confidentiality in therapy

These sessions exist because they create a therapeutic link based on trust. A good part of the added value of this kind of services consists in having a place where all the reasons for fear, shame and anguish can be expressed, and from that information, work to solve the situation.

That is why, if the stability of this relationship dynamic between the professional and the patient or the client is not respected in advance, the work of the psychologists would lose the foundation on which it is based. It would not only mean losing customers, but also it would extend a view of psychology according to which it makes sense to try to cheat the therapist or hide things from him, showing him alone that information that is considered uncommitted.

In this way, a few cases of therapists spreading data would cause very serious damage to the whole profession. Because, the principle of confidentiality is no longer a commitment of the therapist to himself and with the patient with whom he works, but also with the rest of colleagues who dedicate themselves to the same.

But confidentiality is not limited to what the patient explains in the sessions. Psychotherapists also treat confidential data and documentation related to their clients and patients, everything that is considered sensitive information. People do not even have to know the name of the people they work with to improve their well-being.

On the other hand, respecting the privacy of the information given by clients is a way of demonstrating that the person who is offered the service is not judged. ¿Why would a therapist reveal confidential information , if not? Or because the topics discussed seem vain enough to count, or because he likes some anecdotes, or because he respects the client little enough to give private information to whoever asks for it. In any case these situations would be symptoms that there is no commitment to one's professional career.

In what cases is confidentiality broken?

The ethical code of psychologists establishes that the priority is the wellbeing of the patients and the people of their environment. So that, the only situation in which a psychologist must be able to reveal private information to third parties of the patients, is if they have solid evidence that either someone is going to be directly harmed, or someone's life is in danger. That is, a context in which what is trying to improve runs a danger that is beyond the scope of the therapist's intervention.

In the case of suicide risk, the problem to be treated may be related to this, so that confidentiality will be broken if it is considered that there is an immediate and concrete danger.


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