Kalamazoo Family Counseling
Issues Working with Families
Sometimes maintaining confidentiality among family members, especially couples, can be challenging. I make an effort not to take sides while working with families; therefore, I try to avoid colluding with family members by keeping secrets between them. If a client is seeing me in the context of family therapy, please understand that I will respect this client’s privacy. However, if a client needs to speak with me on an individual basis, I will share what is told to me in private with other family members if it is therapeutically relevant, provided a release is signed. Again, I do this to avoid taking sides and perpetuating family secrets that, in the long run, are generally devastating to family togetherness.
Respecting the privacy of children and teenagers while working with parents can also be a challenge. Outside of special and rare circumstances, I typically don’t see a child under 10 without at least one parent or guardian present. I encourage all children and teenagers to be seen together as a family, as it is my belief and experience that this is the most helpful way for many teenagers to deal with family and relationship concerns. If a minor discloses information to me in private that provides evidence that the minor is engaging in risky or dangerous behaviors such as sexual activity under the age of 16, unprotected sex, risky sexual behaviors, drug use, or criminal activity then, in most situations, I am obligated to share this information with the minor’s parents and, depending on the situation, Child Protective Services may need to be notified. Parents also have a legal right to access their minor child’s records.