Confidentiality in Therapy for Kids and Teens

confidentiality in therapyDo you want your child to attend therapy but aren’t sure what the therapist will tell you? Are you afraid that your child might tell the therapist things they won’t tell you? Do you wonder what you can do to help the process? Read on to answer these questions and more.

What Should I Expect as Far as Confidentiality?

First, you should know that confidentiality in counseling is different for kids and teens. While most people understand that confidentiality is a key part of therapy, they aren’t clear on the specifics. When it comes to minors, confidentiality can be a gray area. However, there are 4 main exceptions to confidentiality:

  1. Signed Release of Information – If you want your child’s therapist to talk to another professional such as a teacher or pediatrician, you will sign a release of information. This allows your child’s therapist to speak with others in order to gain or share information about your child’s treatment to better help them.
  2. Subpoena – If you are in an ongoing court case, the judge or lawyers may subpoena your child’s therapist for their records or notes. You must also sign a release of information for this to be released and your therapist will talk to you if this concern presents itself.
  3. Danger to Self or Others – This exception is often the scariest for parents. Your child’s therapist is constantly assessing your child’s safety to themselves and others. If there is any concern for immediate harm, your child’s therapist will break confidentiality to tell you. Do your best to remain calm in this situation. Your child’s therapist can walk you through the next steps and help keep your child safe.
  4. Situations of Abuse – Therapists are mandated reporters in the state of Georgia. This means they have to make reports of abuse to the proper authorities, including DFCS. If you have more questions about this, ask your child’s therapist directly for information.

What if I’m Still Nervous About My Child’s Confidentiality?

It is normal to feel hesitant when you put your child’s safety into someone else’s hands. Your child’s therapist cares about their wellbeing just like you. They are ethically obligated to do what is in the best interest of your child’s safety. However, for most kids and teens, trust is very important in the counseling relationship. Even though you may want to know everything going on with your child, encourages parents to respect their child’s privacy for them to have the best counseling experience. They will get more out of the process if you can trust the therapist and the process.

If your child or teen is struggling, or if you have questions about confidentiality when it comes to minors, reach out to Jazzmin Bailey, APC using this link.