Informed Consent – Limits of Confidentiality

A professional counseling standard is to inform clients about the procedures of counseling including statements of confidentiality, limits to confidentiality, the process of counseling, counselor theory and interventions, as well as the potential benefits and risks of counseling.

Limits of confidentiality are specific around the issue of suicide or “harm to self.”

For instance:
“All interactions between the counselor and client, including scheduling of or attendance of appointments, content of sessions, progress of sessions, or counseling records are confidential. There are some legal and ethical exceptions to confidentiality. If there is evidence of clear and imminent danger or harm to yourself and/or others, a counselor is legally required to report this information to the authorities responsible for ensuring your safety and the safety of others …"

There are a variety of ways to convey informed consent. Regardless of how it is done, the limits of confidentiality related to “harm to self” must be stated.