Chapter 6. Confidentiality

A Critical Element of Trust in the Relationship

  1. Sharon K. Anderson Ph.D. professor licensed psychologist1 and
  2. Mitchell M. Handelsman Ph.D. APA Congressional Science Fellow president licensed psychologist Professor2

Published Online: 28 JUN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444324303.ch6

Ethics for Psychotherapists and Counselors: A Proactive Approach

Ethics for Psychotherapists and Counselors: A Proactive Approach

How to Cite

Anderson, S. K. and Handelsman, M. M. (2009) Confidentiality, in Ethics for Psychotherapists and Counselors: A Proactive Approach, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444324303.ch6

Author Information

  1. 1

    Colorado State University, USA

  2. 2

    University of Colorado Denver, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 28 JUN 2010
  2. Published Print: 3 JUL 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405177672

Online ISBN: 9781444324303



  • confidentiality, critical element of trust in relationship;
  • clients feeling a push–pull - about promise of confidentiality;
  • actual or potential situations - from one's life;
  • make decisions every day about what personal information of ours - we want to share with others and the kinds of information;
  • compromised confidentiality;
  • possible motivations for disclosing information;
  • Green Flag - requests for written releases;
  • breaching confidentiality - respecting clients' confidences and exceptions;
  • breaching confidentiality, preventing a murder or a suicide - clear instance of overriding a client's privacy;
  • spouse abuse - a reportable offense


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Sensitivity and Understanding of Confidentiality

  • Journal Entry: Me and Secrets

  • Red Flag: Compromised Confidentiality

  • Journal Entry: Compromised Confidentiality

  • Food for Thought: Why Do We Feel the Need to Share Client Information?

  • Green Flag: Requests for Written Releases

  • Food for Thought: To Breach or Not to Breach

  • Breaching Confidentiality

  • Journal Entry: Once More into the Breach

  • Food for Thought: Spouse Abuse

  • It's a Small World After All

  • Privilege and Confidentiality

  • Red Flag: Porous Privacy