COUPLES/FAMILY/CHILD/GROUP THERAPY IS DIFFERENT:
This statement of policy is intended to inform all participants in couples, family, child, or group therapy how therapists at Shelby Wellness and Therapy Center choose to handle privacy/confidentiality, as well as the treatment records, which is fundamentally different than in the case of individual therapy.
When SWTC therapists agree to treat a couple, family, child, or group, we consider everyone attending (also known as the “treatment unit”) to be the client. If, for example, clinical records of the treatment unit were ever requested by anyone, inside or outside the treatment unit, your therapist would be required to seek the authorization of all members of the treatment unit before releasing any confidential information, and would not release any information without this authorization (see exceptions to this on SWTC’s “Informed Consent” document which all new clients receive at the onset of therapy). If clinical records were ever subpoenaed in a legal situation, your therapist would assert the psychotherapist-client privilege on behalf of the entire treatment unit.
CONFIDENTIALITY IN COUPLES/FAMILY/CHILD/GROUP THERAPY:
During the course of couples, family, child, or group therapy, your therapist may find it clinically appropriate to consult with a smaller set of the larger treatment unit (e.g. an individual or two siblings) for one or more sessions. Unless occurring for specific, individual issues that are unrelated to the couples/family/child/group work, these sessions would be seen by all participants of the treatment unit as a part of the larger whole: the work that the entire treatment unit is doing, unless otherwise indicated. If you are involved in one or more of such sessions with your therapist, please understand that generally these sessions are still considered confidential in the sense that your therapist would not release any confidential information to a third party unless required to do so by law, or prior written authorization was provided. In fact, since those sessions can and should be considered a part of the treatment of the couple or family, we would also seek the authorization of the other individuals in the treatment unit before releasing confidential information to a third party.
However, your therapist may find it clinically necessary to discuss information learned in a session with only a portion of the treatment unit being present, with the entire treatment unit – that is, the family, couple, or group – to effectively serve the goals of the unit being treated. Your therapist will use professional judgment as to whether, when, and what extent they may make disclosures to the treatment unit, and will also, if appropriate, first inform and give the individual or the smaller part of the treatment unit being seen the opportunity to make the disclosure. Thus, if any individual within the treatment plan feels it necessary to talk about matters that they absolutely do not want shared with anyone else in the larger treatment unit, a consultation with an individual therapist who can help treat you individually may be necessary. SWTC can make a referral to an individual therapist in this case.
This “no secrets” policy is intended to allow your therapist to continue to treat the couple, family, child, or group, by preventing, to the greatest extent possible, a conflict of interest to arise where an individual’s interests may not be consistent with the interests of the treatment unit. For instance, information learned in the course of an individual session may be relevant or even essential to the proper treatment of the couple of the family. If your therapist is not free to exercise clinical judgment regarding the need to bring this information to the couple, family, or group during their therapy, your therapist might be placed in a situation where termination of treatment is necessary. This policy is intended to prevent the need for such a termination.
If choosing to engage in couples, family, child, or group therapy, please sign at the bottom of this document. A signature on this agreement indicates that each member of the treatment plan has read or had read to them, this policy, has had an opportunity to discuss its contents with the therapist, and chooses to undertake couple/family/group therapy in agreement with and with an understanding of how this policy may impact confidentiality and the handling of any records.