Understanding confidentiality and its limits


Psychologists are obliged to adhere to the principle of confidentiality in all dealings with clients. Confidentiality means that your psychologist may not disclose information about you without your consent. However, in certain instances specified by the law and the Ethical Code for Psychologists, a psychologist may be required to break confidentiality. They are the following situations:

  • to protect a client from self-harm or other persons from harm
  • to alert the relevant authorities to situations where child abuse is happening
  • when called upon to do so by a court of law
  • when a client is deemed to be mentally unfit to hold a driver’s license
  • to other professionals and then strictly for professional reasons only
  • to obtain payment for a psychological service and in which the disclosure is limited to only that which is necessary to achieve that end

If you are a parent who is bringing a child for therapy, it is important to understand that, apart from the instances outlined above, your child’s confidentiality must be maintained and you would be asked to respect this.