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Under what circumstances will a therapist break confidentiality?

Riverside, CA |

" Hello , I am a student and I was informed that my college provides therapy sessions at the nurse's office . I have been struggling with many problems in my life . Before I go to seek therapy , I wanted to clarify a few things . Please reply honestly . In terms of legal matters such as state of California's rules and regulation : Under what circumstances will a therapist break confidentiality ? For example if a person over the age of 18 tells their therapist that they were abused by a parent in the past . Will that therapist report it to the authorities without patient's consent ? or not ? Also , if the patient has younger siblings will it affect the siblings since they are under 18 . Will the therapist report this case , even if patient does not say the siblings were being abused only the patine

only the patient themselves? The patient wants too seek therapy for themselves so they want to reveal everything in their past but don't want this session to affect other people especially family members, so they are concerned if they should reveal this to the therapist. Does this make sense? Additional information: -Child abuse is no longer a problem in the patient's life it was a past event but there are other things that patient would like to discuss such as health problems, stress, low confidence,anxiety, etc.. -The patient wants to make sure that revealing this information will not affect their siblings and family. - the parent has changed their ways and no longer abuses."

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Attorney answers 2


The following link, to a column published by the American Psychological Association called "Ethics Rounds," deals with exactly the issues about which you are inquiring, and may be helpful.

Not legal advice, just general information. I hope it's helpful. I don't practice law in California or hold licensure there. If you need legal advice consult California counsel. I practice in Vermont ONLY.


First, a school nurse may not be a therapist, so telling a nurse something personal and confidential may not be a really good idea. Licensed therapists or doctors are not allowed to disclose confidential matters unless the matter involves something that they are required by law to report. For example, if a patient tells her therapist that she is abusing children, a therapist has a legal obligation to report that to the proper authorities. A therapist is often required to report to authorities if he has a reasonable belief or fear that the patient is engaging in activity that could put the patient or someone else at risk of harm or death.

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