Will you tell anyone what I say?

Generally, no. But there are some limitations, and you have a right to know about them before you start therapy.

  1. If you’re being hurt by an adult, your therapist needs to be able to call the right people to help you. Once you tell your therapist about it, he or she will make a report to Child Protective Services so that you can be protected as soon as possible. It is NEVER okay for adults to hurt children, even parents, and your therapist will always put your safety first.
  2. If you tell your therapist that you are going to hurt someone else, your therapist will have to stop you from doing it. It’s just the right thing to do, no matter how mad you are. If you swear that you’re going to hurt someone no matter what, your therapist will call the police.
  3. If you tell your therapist that you are feeling so bad that you might kill yourself, your therapist will do everything he or she can to protect you. This might mean calling people who care about you to help keep you from suicide, sending you to a hospital for some rest, or telling your parents.
  4. If an insurance company is paying for your therapy, they have a right to know some very basic things, like your diagnosis, but your therapist won’t reveal any of the details.
  5. If you are engaging in very dangerous behavior that concerns your therapist very much, he or she will have to tell your parents. There aren’t really black-and-white rules here. The therapist has to decide how destructive it is, and the two of you can talk about whether your parents should be informed, and how to do it in a way that protects your privacy. Just because they are your parents doesn’t mean they get to know everything, but they have a right to know how to help you if things are really, really bad.
  6. Sometimes a judge can ask a therapist for your records. This is very rare. If you are involved in legal trouble, your lawyer can ask for information about you, but the therapist doesn’t have to give it out if you say no. Only a judge can make a therapist turn over information about you, and that can only happen if the judge decides that your personal health information is needed for the legal proceedings.

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