By Amy Briggs

What is Confidentiality?

Confidentiality is an ethical principle that a professional will not disclose any information given by the client or relating to the client under unless given permission by the client or under certain and specific conditions.
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Reasons to Break Confidentiality

Professionals have a Duty to Warn in which they should break confidentiality if:
  • Client is a danger to his or herself.
  • Client is a danger to others.

Importnace of Confidentiality

  • Helps develop and build a trusting relationship with client.
  • Keeps client from danger if they were to disclose such information about situations that might put them in harms way.
  • Keeps their business their business.

ACA Code of Ethics: Confidentiality and Privacy

Respect Clients Rights
  • Multicultural/Diversity Considerations
  • Respect for Privacy
  • Respect for Confidentiality
  • Explanation of Limitations


  • Serious and Foreseeable Harm and Legal Requirements
  • Confidentiality Regarding End-Of-Life Decisions
  • Contagious, Life threatening Diseases
  • Court Ordered Disclosure
  • Minimal Disclosure

Information Shared With Others

  • Subordinates
  • Interdisciplinary Teams
  • Confidential Settings
  • Third-Party Payers
  • Transmitting Confidential Information
  • Deceased Clients

Group and Families

  • Group Work
  • Couples and Family Counseling

Clients Lacking Capacity to Give Informed Consent

  • Responsibility to Clients
  • Responsibility to Parents and Legal Guardians
  • Release of Confidential Information

Records and Documentation

  • Creating and Maintaining Records and Documentation
  • Confidentiality of Records and Documentation
  • Permission to Record
  • Permission to Observe
  • Client Access
  • Assistance With Records
  • Disclosure or Transfer
  • Storage and Disposal After Termination
  • Reasonable Precautions

Case Consultation

  • Respect for Privacy
  • Disclosure of Confidential Information