By David Joel Miller.
Do counselors report crimes? Morning Question #10
The general answer is NO! The more you can talk to a therapist about the more likely you will be helped to change your behavior. Therapists have a legal and ethical duty to NOT repeat what you say. Any exceptions to that rule are determined by law. See my posts on “How Much Should You Tell a Therapist?” or “Why pay a therapist when you can just talk to a friend?”
So could a government somewhere make a law that the therapist had to report a crime? Sure could.
There are laws in many places that protect patient and psychotherapists communication, very similar to doctor and patient privilege. The relationship between a patient and a psychotherapist is held to be special, like that between a person and a religious priest.
The principle exceptions to not having to report crimes are, abuse of children, the elderly and the disabled, (see – Does abuse of seniors and the elderly get reported?), and if you are suicidal or plan to kill someone else. Also if you are being investigated by homeland security we may have to report. As long as homeland security confines their investigations to known terrorists I am OK with this, as it falls under that duty to protect other intended victims. Some therapists have worried that this could be interpreted as needing information of a particular religion or political party and we would mostly be opposed to that sort of reporting.
Short answer: past crimes usually do not get reported, future and ongoing crimes like abuse or a plan to kill probably will be reported.
See also – How much should you tell a therapist?
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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books