A note for teen clients:
Obviously, it can be weird coming to talk with a person you've never met before - especially if the appointment has been set up by one of your parents. If you come to see me, how can you trust that I will keep whatever you may choose to discuss private? Know that if we are working together, my commitment is to you, not to your parents. It's the same as what I say to my adult clients: "You are my boss, I work for you." That means we go at your pace, that I do my very best to meet and understand you from your world view and, that whatever you do decide to talk about in our sessions will remain totally confidential.
There are some exceptions to my being able to maintain confidentiality: If you are at the point that you are about to do serious harm to yourself, to another person, or to an animal, then I will need to involve other people so that, as a team, we can better support you to make safe and healthy choices.
A note for parents of younger children:
I have found that, when working with children and/or adolescents, each situation is different. Depending on the presenting issue(s); the young person’s personal preferences; and, their comfort level regarding the presence of a parent during the counseling session, it may or may not be in the best interest of a young client to have a parent – or parents - be physically in the room during a session.
Sometimes it is useful to have a parent stay for the beginning; show up for the last few minutes; or, remain for the duration of the session - either fully contributing to the discussion or possibly simply sitting quietly. If I have not already, I will talk with you, the parent/guardian, and with the child or adolescent to identify the most comfortable and effective session situation for the young client.
When I do work with the child/adolescent without a parent present, my intention is, first and foremost, to create a safe environment that is free of judgment and helps the young client to feel heard and understood. From this foundation, I work to find ways to help them gain clarity on their own thoughts, feelings and perspectives.
Usually, these private discussions with your child will stay private. I will not discuss details with you, the parent/guardian. When it is appropriate, I will work with the young client to help them communicate their perspectives with parents/ guardians in ways that feel safe for them.
There are rare occasions when I will be legally obliged to break confidentiality and to share young client information with parents/guardians and/or medical and/or legal authorities.
The limits of confidentiality are as follows: when the law requires information to be provided; as with a subpoena; when required for the protection of children in issues of child abuse/neglect; when necessary to prevent clear and imminent danger to the client or others.
In situations involving joint custody or where there have been recent separations and parenting issues have not yet been settled, I ask for the consent of both parents/ guardians, otherwise the signature of one parent is sufficient.