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Confidentiality in family therapy

What if you are doing couples counseling, think you are making great progress in helping the couple develop trust and communication, and then one of the partners reveals to you that they are having an affair, but their partner does not know about it. Both are your clients.

Yes, the individual confidentiality must be kept. However, some have suggested that the partner having the affair might be strongly advised to not keep this secret, and be told that it will be difficult to have any fruitful couples therapy with such a heavy deception going on.
What is your obligation then? Must you keep this information confidential and not inform the partner? If you do, does the couples work become a somewhat of a farce?
There are not always easy answers in confidentiality questions...

There is one other possibility: Some family therapists stipulate from the beginning that there will be no secrets, or side confidentiality, if they are going to do therapy with the couple. This could be in the informed consent agreement. If they didn't agree to that, you might be reluctant to enter into counseling with them, knowing that the results will not be good if there is deception practiced.

Solution Preview

Hi again student. I'm not really sure what your question is, but it would be best if during the informed consent process for couple's therapy that both sides agree that no secrets be kept. If this had been done, then breach of confidentiality as in this scenario would not have been a problem.

If the therapist has not obtained this kind of informed consent, though, and one partner is cheating on ...

Solution Summary

Confidentiality issues in family therapy are summarized in this solution.

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