10 Limits to Confidentiality in Counseling

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Be Aware of These Before You Speak to a Counselor

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10 Limits to Confidentiality in Counseling


  1. You sign a release allowing disclosure, for instance, to an insurance company or a managed-care provider.
  2. A court subpoena is received for your records or testimony from your counselor about your therapy.
  3. You are a danger to yourself or others: serious suicidal or homicidal thinking.
  4. You may have abused a minor, and a report to Child Protective Services is mandated.
  5. Counselors are ethically bound to seek the supervision of their cases as required by law or clinical need.
  6. Support staff processes your records for billing, mailing, transcribing, scheduling, phone calls, and record-keeping activities. However, they are required to keep the information confidential or should be fired.
  7. You are receiving services with other people present, for example, in a couple, family, or group setting. Confidentiality can then only be stressed by your counselor and not guaranteed.
  8. Trained state, accrediting, or managed-care personnel review clinic records to ensure they are adequately maintained or conform to accepted standards.
  9. Researchers review files at the clinic, center, or agency for ethically conducted research projects.
  10. The state where you live has laws regarding mandatory reporting of certain forms of abuse. For example, the state of Iowa requires the reporting of elder abuse and the chemical abuse of minors. Other states may include severe property damage.

Quotations from Various Sources

Listed Alphabetically

“A fool is only a fool because he won’t see he is a fool.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.” —James Joyce

“But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” —Hebrews 12:8

“By honestly acknowledging your past errors, but never damning yourself for them, you can learn to use your past for your own future benefit.” —Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper, A Guide to Rational Living, Third Edition, p. 194

“Correction is grievous unto him that forsaketh the way: and he that hateth reproof shall die.” —Proverbs 15:5

“Failure doesn’t have anything to do with your intrinsic value as a person.” —Albert Ellis and Robert A. Harper, A Guide to Rational Living, Third Edition, p. 206

“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” —Hebrews 12:6

“If we eliminated all errors, we would also eliminate much discovery, art, insight, learning, and creativity that results from facing errors.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice

“If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?” —Hebrews 12:7

“My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:” —Proverbs 3:11

“The greatest explorer on this earth never takes voyages as long as those of the man who descends to the depth of his heart.” —Julien Green

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.” —Norman Vincent Peale

“When receiving correction, the wise seeks to learn and the fool seeks to justify with excuses.” —Kevin Everett FitzMaurice