The foundation of an effective therapeutic relationship is based on trust and confidentiality. All information and communication which is disclosed during the course of your therapy is strictly private and will not be released without your written permission. Even with your written permission, you may at any time, in writing, revoke any consent to release information which you have signed. You should be aware, however, that there are several exceptions to confidentiality which are mandated by California state law. If you provide information during your therapy which creates reasonable suspicion of child or elder abuse, I am required to report this information to Child or Adult Protective Services as well as law enforcement officials.
The second exception to the rule of confidentiality is related to you presenting your self as an imminent danger to yourself or to somebody else. If, in my clinical judgement, I am concerned that you are likely to harm yourself (suicidal) or someone else (homicidal), I am mandated to disclose this information to the appropriate agency. The operative word here is “imminent.” You can entertain suicidal or homicidal thoughts without concern of your confidentiality...your privacy... being reported. The criteria for reporting is based only if I believe that your intent is to act on those thoughts.
If you are coming in for family therapy or for the treatment of a minor, you should know that information related to me by a minor will be held in confidence. General information about a minor’s progress can be discussed but the actual material related by the minor will not be disclosed. The only exception to this rule is that if any information disclosed by a minor is likely to cause harm to the minor, then this would be discussed with the minor’s parent(s) or legal guardian(s).
One final note about confidentiality. In situations where marital or couple therapy is being requested, please be aware that information related by one partner in the relationship, whether in person or by phone, will not be kept private from the the other partner. This prevents me from ending up having to hold “secret” communication from one partner to the other. It is counter productive for myself as therapist to be in the middle of couples’ issues and it is destructive to the communication process between partners.