Confidentiality in Counseling
Confidentiality is the building block upon which all work in counseling rests. Confidentiality within individual counseling is fairly straightforward: a professional therapist is legally and ethically required to protect the client's privacy by not revealing to any unauthorized person either what was said in a session or even that the session occurred.
Group facilitators are under the same ethical and legal requirement as any professional therapist in terms of their obligation to keep the identity of their clients and to keep what a client says in therapy absolutely private. The unfortunate reality is that group members are NOT under either an ethical or legal duty to respect other members' privacy by not revealing what has been said in a group session. For this reason, the responsibility for maintaining confidentiality in group sessions is one that is shared among all group members. In your initial meeting with the facilitator(s), the facilitator will explore what confidentiality means in a group. The facilitator will stress that everyone shares in the responsibility to maintain it out of respect for one another and for the group. All group members will be asked to sign a statement, similar to the one below, to pledge their commitment to confidentiality. Any questions or concerns about confidentiality can be brought up within a group meeting so that everyone can share in the responsibility of dealing with this concern.
As a participant of this group, I realize that it is the responsibility of myself and all other group participants to keep the group confidential. This means that I am not free to share with others who are not currently group participants the names of group members or anything that has been discussed in the group. This does not stop me from sharing with others the fact that I am in the group as long as I do not violate the above. I understand that it is the responsibility of the group leaders to keep all records confidential.