Confidentiality is not only a fundamental principle of professional bodies such as the BABPC and the GHR but is also covered by law. It serves not only as a commitment from the therapist to avoid harm to the client but also enables the therapeutic alliance to develop as there is a basic trust within the therapist. Confidentiality is further discussed under the headings below:
- Confidentiality in Research
Written records, data and the personal identities of participants in research studies must be kept confidential, unless written consent is given by the client to disclose any information pertaining to him/her.
- Confidentiality with regards to written records
In terms of evaluations, treatment plans and even payment arrangements should all be treated as confidential. The Data Protection Act 2018 requires any information or data recorded on paper about the client be kept in a secure locked cabinet. In the case of electronic data records, the data handler, namely the Hypnotherapist needs to register with the IC and follow the principles set out in their guidelines.
- Confidentiality with regards to verbal communication
Any comments or description made about clients in public places constitutes as disclosure of confidential information. For this reason supervision should only be held with a professional and within a secure place where the therapists do not run the risk of accidental breach of confidentiality.
Possible limitations that apply to confidentiality are:
• Therapist may for whatever reason, be subpoenaed by the courts for records pertaining to clients. They have a legal obligation to hand over these documents.
• Should a Therapist suspect that there may be a risk of suicide, serious criminal activity or harm involving another person he/she is legally and ethically obligated to report it.
• If a Therapist suspects any physical, sexual abuse or neglect of any person under the age of 18, he/she has a legal obligation to report it.
• As a member of professional bodies such as the BABPC and GHR the Therapists are required to discuss cases with supervisors, however retaining any personal information.
Problems that could occur in maintaining confidentiality are factors such as social media or even bumping into the client outside the therapy session. In both aspects mentioned above it is advisable for the Professional to not to acknowledge the client in any way or form. Also, should a third party be involved, for instance perhaps the Therapist found out they were treating two people who had a relationship of some sort, the Therapist should terminate treatment sessions as to avoid breach of confidentiality as well as safeguarding his/her professional and ethical code of practise.