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The client is then hesitant to sue over a breach of trust because the client feels bonded to the therapist and does not want to hurt the therapist by suing.
Another issue with confidentiality breaching is that the client has revealed secrets to the therapist and may be concerned that a lawsuit will cause those secrets to become part of public record or be testified about on the stand (Grabois, 1997).
Two additional factors may explain the lack of claims by patients against their therapists (Grabois, 1997). These factors have a close connection to the intensity in this type of therapeutic relationship (Grabois, 1997). One factor is that patients do not recognize the psychotherapist's role in their distress, and the other is that psychotherapists are experts at handling people and their emotions (Grabois, 1997). If a patient is dissatisfied, the therapist can satisfy his or her doubts, or dissuade the patient from his or her anger (Grabois, 1997)."
Because of the things that would cause a client not to take legal action against a therapist who breached the confidentiality clause of the contract between the patient and the therapist, it is all the more vital that the therapist maintain a strict standard of integrity.
By doing this the therapist provides protection of the client and his or her personal issues and beliefs which can only serve to better address the client's needs and help the client work through the problems and move toward an emotionally healthy life.
Guttmacher and Weinhofen have noted that the psychiatric patient "confides more utterly than anyone else in the world (Grabois, 1997):"
He exposes to the therapist not only what his words directly express (Grabois, 1997); he lays bare his entire self, his dreams, his fantasies, his sins, and his shame. Most patients who undergo psychotherapy know that this is what will be expected of them, and that they cannot get help except on that condition (Grabois, 1997)."
It is vital that the client trust the therapist and this will only happen when the therapist conducts himself or herself with the utmost integrity and provides the highest standard of confidentiality (Cox, 2005).
Professionalism is another important attribute that a therapist must offer his or her clients. When examining the topic of professionalism with regard to therapists there are certain obvious standards that are adhered to by professional and ethical therapists (Cox, 2005). The confidentiality, the integrity and the ethics of the therapist are all elements that combine to determine the level of professionalism the marriage and family therapist display. In addition there are elements of professional attitudes that are vital to the success of the therapist practice.
Maintaining a social life that is part and separate from clients is part and parcel of a professional attitude (Cox, 2005). If a client is through seeing a therapist it becomes tempting fotr he client to attempt a social relationship with the therapist. The therapist must act professionally and refuse any social relationship with former clients (Cox, 2005).
In addition, the client should present a neat counseling atmosphere at all times so that the client feels comfortable and believes that he or she is in the care of a professional who has his or her own life in order.
A professional atmosphere is one in which the client can easily relax and feel that the paperwork, and other housekeeping elements of therapy will be handled with very little confusion.
Professionalism on the part of the therapist is important because many clients are turning to their therapists for guidance about how to structure and maintain their own lives, on the job, at home and socially. The therapist who maintains a constant professional attitude shows the client by modeling behavior the positive impact it can have on life.
In addition the therapist must maintain a professional attitude and environment so that the therapist can protect himself or herself should liability issues arise.
If a suit occurs which can happen when one is dealing with people who are emotionally fragile and may perceive things much differently than they actually are, a therapist that has maintained complete professionalism in the office, in attitude and in actions throughout his or her practice has a much better chance at defending himself or herself in the suit.
Being able to immediately locate records, and being able to have people testify on the stand about the therapist's consistent professional attitude and demeanor can go a long way in the defense of a suit. If the therapist has been conducting himself or herself in a professionally questionable manner in other areas of practice then it may lead the judge to believe that the law suit has validity even if it does not.
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The liability of psychotherapists for breach of confidentiality.
From: Journal of Law and Health | Date: March 22, 1997 | Author: Grabois, Ellen W. | More results for: confidentiality therapists
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