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Confidentiality in Psychology Practice

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Psychology professionals work with many different people and problems. The issues of confidentiality, release of information under HIPAA, therapy notes, and dual relationships become even more important in a clinic setting. One of the more important issues addressed in the Code is the issue of sexual intimacy during or after therapy. We are going to use the following case study to explore the subject

Case Study:

John is a new client coming in for therapy today. In meeting with John during your intake, you find out that he was seen for six months by another professional in the same community as your practice. As part of the intake process, you ask John if he was unhappy with the services that he received or why he decided to see a new psychologist.

John, who is very open, tells you that he was seeing a female therapist. During the course of therapy, they decided that they were both attracted to each other. John indicates that he knows he still has a few issues to work on because his therapist (now girlfriend) has told him so. John stated that he stopped therapy last week and would like to continue his work with you.

What ethical standards have been broken? Is this information worthy of reporting? Why or why not? How would you approach dealing with the conflicts you have identified? Be specific and list the steps you would you take in order to do so. Also, how might you handle this issue with regard to your therapeutic relationship with John?

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Solution Preview

When it comes to John's history as a client/patient under therapy, there are some serious ethical violations on the part of his previous therapist, now partner, as implied through his statement.

In accordance with the American Psychological Association's Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct manual, under section 3.02 (Sexual Harassment) psychologists are not allowed to engage in any form of advances towards their patient (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 5). Under section 3.08 (Exploitive Relationships) psychologists are neither allowed to engage in, nor exploit, relationships of any nature, which also seems to be the case for John as he ...

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