Extent of Confidentiality
(a) Counsellors shall treat all communication between counsellor and client as confidential and privileged information, unless the client gives consent to particular information being disclosed.
(b) Counsellors may discuss, in supervision, information received in counselling as part of the normal management of confidentiality.
(c) Counsellors should take all reasonable steps to communicate clearly the extent and limits of the confidentiality they offer clients. Any agreement between the counsellor and client about confidentiality may be reviewed and changed by joint negotiation.
(d) Counsellors shall protect clients’ identities when information gained from counselling relationships is used for purposes such as counsellor training, research or audit.
(e) Counsellors shall respect confidences about the clients of colleagues.
(f) Counsellors should establish procedures to ensure the ongoing management of client confidentiality in the event of the counsellor’s death.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
(a) Counsellors shall only make exceptions to confidentiality in order to reduce risk.
(b) When counsellors need to pass on confidential information, they should provide only the minimum of information necessary and only then to those people to whom it is absolutely necessary.
(c) Exceptions to confidentiality occur when:
• there is serious danger in the immediate or foreseeable future to the client or others,
• the client’s competence to make a decision is impaired,
• legal requirements demand that confidential material be revealed,
• responding to a complaint about counselling practice.
(d) Wherever possible, the decision to make an exception to confidentiality is made:
• after seeking the client’s co-operation, unless doing so would further compromise the safety of the client or others,
• after consultation with a supervisor.
Confidentiality and the Law
(a) Counsellors are encouraged to seek legal advice about their rights and obligations under the law, when the counsellor’s work with clients involves contact with the legal system.
(b) When issued with a search warrant or subpoena to give evidence in Court, or other legal processes, counsellors should pursue the status of privileged communication, in accordance with the client’s wishes, until all legal avenues have been exhausted.