For this discussion I choose to write about confidentiality in the human service field. This dialogue is between an intern working to become a social worker and myself a social worker with a PhD.
Keashia: Good afternoon Ms. Collins!
Ebony: Hello Keashia, how are you doing today? How has your first week been so far?
Keashia: I am doing ok and it has been awesome so far. I am learning a lot and I appreciate you letting me sit in with you yesterday while you meet with your client.
Ebony: No problem keashia, we both enjoyed your company. Just remember usually there is no one in the room with you besides your client because of the confidentiality agreement between you and your clients. If there is a case where someone sits in, you must get written consent from your client first.
Keashia: Ok, I understand about having to get consent from your client before inviting someone to sit in, but what exactly are the limits of confidentiality.
Ebony: Let us have a seat in my office for a minute. Ok, confidentiality is slightly hard to understand at times. Confidentiality must be enforced at all times, with limited exceptions; when such confidentiality would cause harm to clients or others, or when your company guidelines state otherwise are grounds to break confidentiality. You see Keashia clients must be assured that they have a safe place to discuss their private thoughts, fears, and experiences.
Keashia: What if I have a 17 year old girl as a client, she tells me that she is pregnant and is going to get an abortion. Wouldn’t I have to break our confidentiality agreement then?
Ebony: No, she is not causing harm to herself or anyone one else so legally you cannot tell anyone. If she tells you that she is selling drugs to friends and is involved in gang violence then you are permitted by law to report any illegal acts to the authorities.
Keashia: I think I understand now, so if I had a client that says when she leaves the office she is going to commit suicide...