Will the psychologist keep records of what I say? I am worried about others finding out my private information.
Psychologists are legally and ethically required to keep records of their work with clients. Plus, records are an important tool to help keep us focused on achieving your goals. Therapy records typically include information about how a client is doing at the time of the session, any important life updates, the focus of the session, progress on goals, and plans for moving forward. If we agree on an activity that you will try out between sessions, this will be in the record so we can be sure to follow up on it when you return. So, while these notes are legally and ethically required, they also serve as a helpful log for the therapist to help guide your work together.
Records and conversations with your psychologist are highly confidential. Psychologists are legally and ethically bound to confidentiality and should never share anything about you with anyone else. Psychologists are not to disclose any potentially identifying information meaning not only do we protect the things that you share with us in confidence, but we maintain your privacy as our client.
For many psychologists this often goes to the extent of not acknowledging a client first if we run into one another at the grocery store or out at a restaurant. This is not being rude, but to protect you from the possibility of answering questions from your friends about how we know one another if you do not want to. If you want to say hi, that is absolutely ok and on your terms, just don’t expect a therapy session in the middle of dinner. You know, since that’s not so private.
So, yes, records will be kept, but they are not a word-for-word transcription of what you say. Generally, the privacy of all communications between a client and a psychologist is protected by law. Information about your work with a psychologist can only be released to others with your written permission. There are a few exceptions (court order, abuse, threats of harm) and your psychologist should provide you with an explanation of this.
Fiercely protecting client confidentiality and privacy is a critical mark of an ethical, skilled clinician. Additionally, the confidential nature of the therapeutic relationship is a strong component of what makes it work. If you have any questions about how your psychologist will maintain your privacy, don’t be afraid to ask. If you have found the right therapist, you'll be able to tell that he or she cares just as much (maybe even more) about your privacy as you do.
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