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Confidentiality

Confidentiality is critical when working patients and it is even more difficult when working with groups.  A counselor would understand confidentiality and everything that goes along with it however; it can be difficult to get an entire group on board with just a short amount of time.

The first thing that is required is getting everyone to understand and sign the informed consent.  Informed consent is basically everything that will happen in a nutshell.  For example, the clients must understand what the payment/insurance requirements are, the office policies, and of course confidentiality.  When helping the group understand confidentiality it is good practice to spend a bit of time with them so that they can fully understand the ethical and legal obligations that they have when discussing confidential information.

During the first session, the group members should receive specific examples of what might come up and why something that would seem so insignificant might break the confidentiality agreement.  It is possible that the group members may run in the same social circles or may develop friendship because of the group so by giving real life examples the group members know where the line is and how not to cross it.  Another thing that the counselor should discuss with the group members is that they can only control what they can so the information that they decide to give cannot be controlled 100%.  If there is something that a group member wants to make sure is kept completely private they can use their own judgment as to whether or not they can trust the other group members.

Lastly, the counselor should explain what types of information they are legally obligated to report.  This information would include anything that is currently happening that puts the group member or other people at risk such as ongoing child abuse or suicidal thoughts.  During group therapy the counselor will always remind the group and periodically touch on the subject of confidentiality.