Confidentiality means that in my practice, I do not reveal your presence in therapy, or anything about our work, without your permission. If I speak with your family or other persons from your life, I tell them that I will not keep secret from you anything they say.
There are exceptions to confidentiality. First, if you identify a person in immediate, mortal danger, or who is endangering the lives of others, or is involved in abuse of a vulnerable person, the law requires that I break confidentiality to protect the person in danger. In my work, people often tell me they are thinking of suicide, or doing dangerous things. I am not required to break confidentiality simply because someone does something that might be dangerous, or thinks about death. I want you to speak freely about death when you choose. I believe that the way we deal with death is, for all people, also the way we deal with life, and well worth opening up in therapy.
Second, I may ask other professionals for a confidential second opinion. Third, I keep records of meetings in a locked cabinet. The legal system of Canada can require these records or for a therapist to appear in court. If you are court-ordered to obtain professional help, I will require permission to share information with officers of the court. You are free to see the records that are kept. Fourth, if you are younger than 16, the law requires that I answer your parents’ or legal guardians’ questions about your welfare.
If you want to tell me something but are not sure whether it is protected by confidentiality, please say so and we will find a way to work it out.