2. Keeping counselees' secrets
Instructor comments about topic
As you have learned in the first topic, the most frequent questions that counselors ask about proper professional behavior concern the topic of how to honor the obligation to clients to maintain the confidences their counselees elect to share with them. We know that the counseling relationship is based on trust and yet there are situations in which counselors must disclose the "secrets" of their counselees. The codes of ethics that govern the professional behavior of counselors require disclosure in some circumstances and allow disclosure in others. Likewise, there are circumstances in which counselors are required by law (regulations, statutes and case law) to disclose. Counselors who deal with minors are troubled by their sometimes conflicting obligations to parents and their young counselees. Other counselors are vexed by troubling questions when dealing with counselees who have tested positive for HIV and report continued unprotected sexual activity with uninformed partners and yet others fear that a court forced disclosure that will end a relationship based on trust. The obligation of counselors to warn and protect, to honor the rights of parents, and to comply with other legal obligations makes the simple idea of "keeping secrets" complex.
The material in this topic blends into the topic on counselor duty (responsibility). For example, mandated reporting of child abuse, the case law and statutes requiring warning potential victims, and the standard of care regarding protecting suicidal clients are counselor duties that may require breaking a confidence. The topics are related and cannot be conceptually separated but are separated to organize your reading.
Know the difference between confidentiality and privilege.
Read and study the ACA Ethical Code (2005) and the AMHCA (2000) or ASCA Ethical Standards for School Counselors (2004). Links are provided.
Read one or more of the suggested text chapters as the starting point and at the conclusion of your work read it again and insure that you understand the key points.
Glosoff, Herlihy, & Spence (2000); Glosoff & Pate (2002), Remley, Herlihy & Herlihy (1997); White, McCormick, & Kelly (2003)