When can a therapist breach their confidentiality agreement?

Health care is a highly regulated industry. There are certain rules and regulations that mental health counselors or therapists must familiarize themselves with and adhere to if they wish to remain in compliance with state and federal laws. One obligation they have is to provide their patients with a privacy disclosure outlining their responsibility to protect their confidentiality. Some situations call for breaching this contract though.

There are several situations in which most professional boards, state and federal officials have authorized therapists to lawfully breach their confidentiality agreement with their clients.

They’re allowed to do so if they believe that their client may be a danger to their own self or someone else. They are also authorized to do so if they’re concerned that they may hurt someone belonging to a defenseless population such as a child or a senior citizen. A psychotherapist is generally allowed to reveal personal diagnostic information to someone other than a patient to procure payment for services as well.

The American Psychological Association (APA) outlines the guidelines that they require their member psychologists to follow in their Code of Conduct standard 4.05(b). They allow them to disclose confidential information as required by law. Their rules outline how this might be necessary to protect themselves as providers and others. They may also share patient information when consulting with other professionals about their care.

Codes of Ethics published by two other professional associations including the American Counseling Association and the National Association of Social Workers are also aligned with the APA’s guidelines.

The criteria for deciding whether medical information is personal or privileged varies by state. In some jurisdictions, providers aren’t expected to adhere to any duty to warn or protect laws.

If you’ve been accused of having breached your confidentiality agreement with your Melbourne therapy client, then you should address the matter right away. An attorney can review your case alongside relevant Florida case law and let you know whether your client’s claim is valid.

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