In therapy, when should and when must a secret be disclosed? Read More
Do you tell the parties you will quit working for them if they tell you a secret and refuse to tell their partner? I would be most put out to find that out about a therapist if it was not disclosed up front.
If a couple comes in to see me they, the couple, are my client. If I see one of them alone later and a secret is disclosed I can't collude with one member of the couple and feel ethical. If the secret holder does not want to disclose I can't order him or her to do so, but I won't continue to see the couple and keep a secret from one of them. How could I disclose that up front? If in an individual session the secret holder asks what will happen if....I certainly will state my policy, but I can't know in advance that a secret is involved.
I would think you would tell them something along the lines of "if you choose to hire me as an individual therapist and a couples therapist, and you tell me something I consider a secret but you refuse to tell your partner, I will quit."
Here is a different and equally compelling point of view advocating for therapists being willing to hold confidences in certain couples therapy situations. Google "Beyond the trauma of betrayal: reconsidering affairs in couples therapy" from Family Process journal in 2002.
I am unable to access it. Can you summarize her view please?
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Isadora Alman, M.F.T., is a Board-certified sex, marriage, and family therapist, lecturer, author, and syndicated advice columnist of "Ask Isadora."
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