• Confidentiality Guidelines

    Confidentiality is one of the main ethical considerations for school counselors. How do we maintain students' trust, but still do what we can to keep students safe and parents informed? How do laws and ethics co-exist? Here are some basic questions and answers on this topic for school counselors.

    1. What exactly is confidentiality, and how is it different from legal privilege?

    I like the definition given in a 2002 article in the Journal of Professional School Counseling:

    “Confidentiality is a professional’s promise or contract to respect clients’ privacy by not disclosing anything revealed during counseling, except under agreed upon conditions.”

    Legal privilege is different. While confidentiality in school counseling is an ethical term, legal privilege is (obviously) a legal term. Whenever there’s a struggle between ethics and the law, the law always prevails. Legal privilege is given to attorneys, doctors, and licensed professional counselors, among others. But in many states, school counselors are certified rather than licensed, so legal privilege doesn’t apply.

    taken from: http://www.school-counseling-zone.com/confidentiality.html

    2. When can confidentiality be broken?
    School counselors are obligated to break confidentiality under three specific circumstances:
    -When one threatens harm to the self
    -When one threatens harm to another
    -When there is suspected child abuse or neglect
    These guidelines should be explained to all clients at the beginning of a counseling relationship.