Limits of confidentiality in therapy
I take confidentiality very seriously, both personally, and professionally.
It is important that you feel safe and able to discuss any aspect of your living experience in the understanding that I will hold that information safely, without judgement and for the purpose of therapy only.
However, there are legal and ethical limits to confidentiality, and the following outlines the circumstances under which the information you bring to therapy might be disclosed to someone else.
The following only very occasionally come up but it is important that you are fully aware before therapy commences that there are certain instances where I will share information. Ideally with your permission and knowledge or very occasionally, without.
If during the course of your therapy you reveal to me any information about activities related to terrorism or terrorist activity including planned acts of terrorism, I have a legal obligation to inform the authorities, in this case the police.
If during the course of our therapy you reveal to me any information about activities related to money laundering, I have a legal obligation to inform the authorities, in this case the police.
If during the course of our therapy you reveal to me any information about activities related to drugs trafficking, I have a legal obligation to inform the authorities, in this case the police.
You can safely and confidentially talk about personal drug use in therapy and that information will be held by me without judgement. Drugs trafficking disclosure refers specifically to organised crime and quantities of drugs beyond those that can be defined as “personal use”.
Threat of Significant Harm to Self or Others
If during the course of our therapy you revealed to me something that led me to reasonably believe that either yourself or someone else was at significant risk of serious harm or death, then I have an ethical duty to inform someone else:-
- If I believed that you were in significant risk of danger from someone else, we would explore this in therapy and discuss options for how you might be able to make that disclosure to other agencies that could help/ support you. Therapy is about self-empowerment and so where possible I would encourage you to take that step yourself but if you decide that this is something that you were unable or unwilling to do, I may contact a third party regardless but this would be discussed during the course of our session.
- If I had reasonable cause to believe that you were in significant risk of danger by your own hand, we would explore your thoughts and feelings in therapy and I may take the decision to contact your GP but we will discuss this in session.
- If I believed there was a significant risk of serious harm to children and/ or vulnerable adults or anyone else from any information that you gave me, again I would raise my concern directly with you and we would explore the option of your giving the information to relevant third parties in the session. This might be the police, or local authority. If at that point you did not want to disclose the information to a third party and I believed that there was a real risk of significant harm to a child, or vulnerable adult I would disclose the information including your contact details to the most appropriate 3rd party under safeguarding but we would have a discussion and I would make you aware.
- If I had reasonable reason to believe that there was a serious risk of significant harm to children and/ or vulnerable adults or anyone else by your hand, I would inform the police and would not necessarily discuss this with you.
- If you threaten me, my property or my family, I will inform the police
Court Order (Subpoena)
If I received a formal court order to attend court/ release client notes about a client, I am legally compelled to do so.
If the police ask for information as part of an investigation, I am not obliged to release any confidential information and would put my clients wellbeing first in every case. The police do an important job and I understand that it is within their remit to pursue various lines of enquiry when investigating a crime. They, in turn, understand my job and know that I can refuse without a formal court order.
Registered and regulated professional hypnotherapists work under the benefit of professional supervision. This is not a supervisor in the sense of being someone senior in rank to the therapist as is the case in some businesses. Within therapy every therapist appoints and pays for a professional supervisor to form a second tier of support and consideration to ensure that the very best of service and treatment is offered to the client.
The Supervisor is a practicing therapist who has taken additional qualifications to be permitted to offer their services as a Supervisor. The supervisor provides the following:
- a second pair of ears and eyes to give an entirely objective opinion on the therapy being conducted and also to potentially suggest other complementary techniques that may be useful
- challenges the therapist on matters of ethics and best practice where there may be any concern however, small
- supports the therapist work through therapy planning and wider consideration, especially in complex cases
- helps ensure that high standards of therapy are maintained and that the therapist is acting appropriately and professionally at all times
I discuss my caseload with my supervisor and whilst the issues and treatments of my cases are shared, no details identifying my clients are.
The only time that a supervisor will be made privy to my clients personal details is in the event of my sudden death or inability to work. In such scenarios, the contact details of current clients in therapy will be passed to my supervisor for them to contact my clients to advise that I will no longer be available and to offer alternative therapists to continue therapy if required. Additional costs will be incurred by clients to continue with a new therapist.
The rules around the limits to confidentiality obligates therapists to only share information to 3rd parties that relate specifically to the aforementioned. I will not discuss the details of my client’s care or treatment. Any information that is not specific to the aforementioned will remain confidential.
* this notice is subject to change inline with changes in UK legislation and my governing body’s Code of Ethics
A Word of Reassurance
It is only fair and reasonable that I make it quite clear to potential clients that there are some rare exceptions to confidentiality but I stress, in the vast majority of cases everything that is shared in the therapy space, stays in the therapy space.
It is a rare and precious thing in this generation of oversharing information to find an authentic space where you can explore your innermost feelings, hurt, shame, guilt, sadness, hopes, fears and joys without fear of judgment. I can give you that space and bear witness to your growth and self-empowerment.