The Rules Of Privacy In Therapy

We were all seated at large round tables enjoying a celebration of a dear friend’s son. We guests went around the table introducing ourselves. A woman across the table stared at me after she announced her name. “You look familiar she said.” I smiled at her. I knew very well how she knew me but I did not want to say. “When I look at you,” she continued, “I get this good feeling.” Her voice trailed off. I discreetly got up and went to the ladies room. Sure enough, she followed me. “You know, don’t you?” she said, looking at me, mystified. “Yes,” I told her, “You came to see me for therapy last year. And I’m glad you didn’t blurt that out at the table!” “Ohhhhh.” She replied, remembering. “I’m glad you had a good feeling,” I kidded. That wasn’t the first or only time there were awkward moments encountering clients in public situations. Generally, I pretend I don’t know the person at all if I am in front of others. Why do I do that? Every kind of therapist has to abide by a code of ethics. And we do. Or should. So, for example, The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy has a Code of Ethics which reads, in part: “Principle II  Confidentiality Marriage and family therapists have unique confidentiality concerns because the client in a therapeutic relationship may be more than one person. Therapists respect and guard the confidences of each individual client. 2.2 Written Authorization to Release Client Information. Marriage and family therapists do not disclose client confidences except by written authorization or...

A Simple Tool To Reconnect

Mary Smith walked into the office of the Marriage & Family Therapist resolved to maintain her dignity. She would not cry; she would not allow herself to be put on the defensive, and most of all, she did not want to point fingers. She knew that being blaming never got anywhere. She just wanted some answers. Her husband, Simon, reluctantly came with her. He didn’t see the need for this and Mary had had a hard time explaining her reasoning to him. She had told him she was unhappy and she could see that he was stressed, too. Simon had argued with her that neither of them was crazy and “What else do you go to a shrink for?” Mary had tried to couch the reason for the appointment in terms of happiness: “Of course we’re not crazy,” she said, “I don’t think that’s why people go for help. They just go for help because they need it.” Mary exhaled a long sigh. Their conversations were so exasperating. When would they ever be on the same page? In spite of her bravery and her resolutions, Mary was nervous as she sat waiting for their turn to go into the therapist’s office. Here, they would be sharing their personal and private lives with a total stranger. Did the stranger know enough to help them? Did the stranger have the wisdom and experience to read between the lines? Would the stranger make them feel guilty for the occasional mean remark that one or the other might have made? Would they really get the help they so badly needed? The therapist greeted...

What’s the Difference Between Therapy and Coaching?

Therapists are struggling to help people but the internet — and your neighborhood — have become filled with coaches extolling the benefits of *not* being therapists. Really, the argument is as silly as trying to convince everyone that the only ice cream that tickles the taste buds is chocolate. Some people prefer vanilla, some chocolate, and luckily there are probably around a hundred other flavors to accommodate aficionados. Everyone can get to choose. So here is a quick and painless run-down of the different approaches to helping people. First of all, there is no such thing as “a” kind of therapy. There are probably hundreds of therapy approaches — like ice cream flavors — and it is important to know one  approach from the other. After all, you are a consumer (or you could become one.) You might want to take a look at my article, What You Need to Know About the Different Therapy Approaches and my video, Marriage-Friendly Therapy, or some oldies but goodies on this site on the subject of a holistic approach to therapy. One notes that holistic therapy is More Than Behavior, More Than Feelings; the other wonders why therapists should look at peoples’ deficits rather than their strengths in A Different Way of Viewing Problems. If you’re not in the mood to read all that, suffice it to say that all psychotherapy is not talk-talk-talk. You’d be thinking of psychoanalysis, if that’s what you thought it was. Freud, the inventor of psychoanalysis, believed people need to talk to discover their real feelings at the core of their problems. And I have known people...
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