1.07 Privacy and Confidentiality
(c) Social workers should protect the confidentiality of all information obtained in the course of professional service, except for compelling professional reasons. The general expectation that social workers will keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is necessary to prevent serious, foreseeable, and imminent harm to a client or others. In all instances, social workers should disclose the least amount of confidential information necessary to achieve the desired purpose; only information that is directly relevant to the purpose for which the disclosure is made should be revealed.
NAADAC Principle II: Confidentiality and Privileged Information
II-7 Limits to Confidentiality
Addiction professionals, during informed consent, shall disclose the legal and ethical limits of confidentiality and shall disclose the legal exceptions to confidentiality. Confidentiality and limitations to confidentiality shall be reviewed as needed during the counseling relationship. Providers shall review with each client all circumstances where confidential information may be requested, and where disclosure of confidential information may be legally required.
Addiction professionals shall only reveal client identity or confidential information without client consent when a client presents a clear and imminent danger to themselves or to another person, and only to emergency personnel who are directly involved in reducing the danger or threat. Counselors shall obtain supervision or consultation when unsure about the validity of an exception, and shall document the recommendations.
NAADAC Principle III: Professional Responsibilities
Addiction professionals shall abide by the NAADAC Code of Ethics. Addiction professionals shall read, understand and follow the NAADAC Code of Ethics and shall adhere to applicable Federal and state laws and regulations.
Know Your Relevant State Law
One of the most important steps a psychologist can take concerning his or her duty to protect is to find out what relevant state law exists. This encompasses case law (decisions made by courts), statutory law and perhaps common law. Many states have enacted duty to protect statutes.
Be Aware of Steps You Need to Take
In addition to knowing when the duty to protect is triggered, you should know what the statute requires as necessary steps to take. These vary from reporting to the police and/or the intended victim to taking additional steps to prevent the violence, such as hospitalizing the client.
B.1.c. Respect for Confidentiality
Counselors protect the confidential information of prospective and current clients. Counselors disclose information only with appropriate consent or with sound legal or ethical justification.
B.1.d. Explanation of Limitations
At initiation and throughout the counseling process, counselors inform clients of the limitations of confidentiality and seek to identify situations in which confidentiality must be breached.
B.2.a. Serious and Foreseeable Harm and Legal Requirements The general requirement that counselors keep information confidential does not apply when disclosure is required to protect clients or identified others from serious and foreseeable harm or when legal requirements demand that confidential information must be revealed. Counselors consult with other professionals when in doubt as to the validity of an exception.
STANDARD II: Confidentiality
2.1 Disclosing Limits of Confidentiality
Marriage and family therapists disclose to clients and other interested parties at the outset of services the nature of confidentiality and possible limitations of the clients’ right to confidentiality. Therapists review with clients the circumstances where confidential information may be requested and where disclosure of confidential information may be legally required. Circumstances may necessitate repeated disclosures.
2.2 Written Authorization to Release Client Information
Marriage and family therapists do not disclose client confidences except by written authorization or waiver, or where mandated or permitted by law. Verbal authorization will not be sufficient except in emergency situations, unless prohibited by law. When providing couple, family or group treatment, the therapist does not disclose information outside the treatment context without a written authorization from each individual competent to execute a waiver. In the context of couple, family or group treatment, the therapist may not reveal any individual’s confidences to others in the client unit without the prior written permission of that individual.
3.2 Knowledge of Regulatory Standards
Marriage and family therapists pursue appropriate consultation and training to ensure adequate knowledge of and adherence to applicable laws, ethics, and professional standards.
7.4 Informed Consent
Marriage and family therapists provide written notice and make reasonable efforts to obtain written consents of persons who are the subject(s) of evaluations and inform clients about the evaluation process, use of information and recommendations, financial arrangements, and the role of the therapist within the legal system.
7.5 Avoiding Conflicts
Clear distinctions are made between therapy and evaluations. Marriage and family therapists avoid conflict in roles in legal proceedings wherever possible and disclose potential conflicts. As therapy begins, marriage and family therapists clarify roles and the extent of confidentiality when legal systems are involved.
NCCs, recognizing the potential for harm, shall not share information that is obtained through the counseling process without specific written consent by the client or legal guardian except to prevent clear, imminent danger to the client or others or when required to do so by a court order.