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Confidentiality and The "Helping" Relationship Essay

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Trust is an essential factor in the helping process. Without it, clients will not feel free to share their most intimate thoughts and feelings. They will not be completely honest or forthcoming in conversations which will hinder the professional’s ability to truly help the client. For this reason, the promise of confidentiality becomes critical to the process. It is the “secret keeping duty” all helping professionals have an ethical obligation to observe (Younggren & Harris, p.589). It protects the client’s right to privacy and fosters an atmosphere in which one feels safe, facilitating trust and allowing one to feel comfortable enough to share their inner most feelings and thoughts. Most helping professionals agree that confidentiality is key to the healing process and it is their primary obligation to protect it (Fisher, p.1). It is a standard included in the American Psychological Associations Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct (2002) and it is regulated by law in many states. The importance of preserving confidentiality was highlighted in an article published in the Lancet in February of 2006 titled, “Pressures on Confidentiality”. Several reasons were given on why its preservation was necessary including protection of individual privacy and retention of personal autonomy. Additionally, maintaining confidentiality implies a degree of secret keeping, instilling a feeling of trustworthiness and faith in the doctor-client relationship (Rogers, p. 553). Furthermore, the importance of confidentiality was highlighted in a land mark decision by the Supreme Court in Jaffee v. Redmond (1996) which states:
Effective psychotherapy, by contrast, depends upon an atmosphere of confidence and trust in which the patient is wi...


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...13. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.63.1.1
How technology changes everything (and nothing) in psychology: 2008 annual report of the APA policy and planning board. (2009). American Psychologist, 64(5), 454-463.
O'Neil, M. K. (2007). Confidentiality, privacy, and the facilitating role of psychoanalytic organizations. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 88(3), 691-711. doi:10.1516/0334-5427-247W-X038
Richards, M. M. (2009). Electronic medical records: Confidentiality issues in the time of HIPAA. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 40(6), 550-556. doi:10.1037/a0016853
Rogers, W. A. (2006). Pressures on confidentiality. Lancet, 367(9510), 553-554. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(06)68200-7
Younggren, J. N., & Harris, E. A. (2008). Can you keep a secret? confidentiality in psychotherapy. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 64(5), 589-600. doi:10.1002/jclp.20480



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