This written policy is intended to inform you, the participants in therapy, that when I agree to treat a couple, I consider that couple to be the patient. For instance, if there is a request for the treatment records of the couple, I will seek the authorization of both members before I release confidential information to third parties. Also, if my records are subpoenaed, I will assert the psychotherapist-patient privilege on behalf of the patient.
During the course of my work with a couple, I may see one or both of you individually for one or more sessions. These sessions should be seen by you as a part of the work that you are doing as a couple, unless otherwise indicated. If you are involved in one or more of such sessions with me, please understand that generally these sessions are confidential in the sense that I will not release any confidential information to a third party unless I am required by law to do so or unless I have your written authorization. In fact, since those sessions can and should be considered a part of the treatment of the couple, I would also seek the authorization of the other partner before releasing confidential information to a third party.
However, I may need to share information learned in an individual session with the other partner, if I am to effectively serve the couple. I will use my best judgment as to whether, when, and to what extent I will make disclosures to the other partner, and will also, if appropriate, first give the relevant partner the opportunity to make the disclosure. Thus, if you feel it necessary to talk about matters that you absolutely want to be shared with no one, you might want to consult with an individual therapist who can treat you individually.
This “no secrets” policy is intended to allow me to continue to treat the couple by preventing, to the extent possible, a conflict of interest to arise where an individual’s interests may not be consistent with the interests of the unit being treated. For instance, information learned in the course of an individual session may be relevant or even essential to the proper treatment of the couple. If I am not free to exercise my clinical judgment regarding the need to bring this information to the family or the couple during their therapy, I might be placed in a situation where I will have to terminate treatment of the couple. This policy is intended to prevent the need for such a termination.