Are therapists and doctors allowed to give out information to your family?

So story is, I got raped when I was a 9. Didn't have sex until I got married 13 years later, but sex was a bit more difficult than I expected, so I needed to go back to therapy.

Now appearently my husband called my therapist just to ask how it's going. And he told him everything. Appearently not in great detail, which is good, because it is stuff that I don't talk to my husband about. I'm just afraid that sometime he will tell my husband more

Updates:
jesus christ those categories drive me nuts, I mean sexuality, really?

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Most Helpful Guy

  • No they are not. They are supposed to maintain strict patient confidentiality.

    Certainly not if they are licensed. I suppose that unlicensed therapists can do whatever they want, since they are not responsible to anyone.

    There are maybe a few exceptions. If they have reasonable suspicion that a crime will be committed or that you will harm yourself, then they are required to report this to a law authority. Also, if you were in a couple counseling session with your husband, the rules may be a little bit different than a private counseling session in terms of what he needs to keep secret, since it's rather difficult to counsel a couple without sharing information. Another exception is if you were a minor at the time of therapy, and then I believe the psychiatrist is allowed (but not required) to share info with your legal guardians. Finally if you are required to do a psychiatric evaluation for a court order or something similar, the therapist would be required to release that info to someone, although you would know about this beforehand.

    Other than that, what he did was wrong and you have a few options in terms of what you can do:

    1. Get a new therapist.

    2. File a complaint with whatever professional board gives him his license.

    3. Sue him.

    Unless he really wronged you, I would avoid #3 since a lawsuit would be emotionally tolling on you, and not help you heal.

    #2 is very easy to do, and based on the severity (or negligence) in what he did, is something you should seriously consider because if he is that unprofessional than the board deserves to know, since his lack of professionalism could hurt other patients. Make sure you have all the facts though, and verify that he actually did break the rules. Also I suppose you can subjectively ask yourself if he meant well, since we are talking about damaging his career.

    #1 is something you should probably do regardless, even if you don't bother reporting him. You don't want to be paying someone you can't trust. Even if he meant well, and even if he strictly didn't knowingly break any rules (which he probably did), he should not have given information to your husband without asking you first. A good therapist will always go out of their way to make sure they preserve their patients' trust, going beyond even what the law and professional boards require.

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    • I don't want to sue him and I'm sure he meant well, but there are some things I told him I'd rather not have my husband know, so I just can't trust him with that anymore

    • Ask him for a referral to see a new therapist. People change therapists for much lesser reasons than that, so it shouldn't be a big deal. Unless he's a real quack, he will understand that you need a therapist can only help if you trust them, so he should help you find one.

What Guys Said 27

  • no they can't...well it actually depends.

    For psychiatrists and therapists there is the hippocratic oath. Which essentially says that they will not divulge details of their discussions or what you say to them to other people. They may admit that you are a patient or how often you've seen them but they really aren't supposed to say anything beyond that. Now that is only an ethical thing and nothing written in stone. But most therapists abide by it because a part of effectively doing their job is maintaining the trust and confidentiality of their patient's without it they will probably not be seen as a trustworthy confidant.

    Then there is HIPPA, which is a legal statute for protection of health & information patient privacy. By this doctors are not allowed to divulge records, billing info, or personal info on a person. The exclusions are for

    -family members requesting info on a patient under 18 (and even then they have to prove they are a relative or have a signed form [easy to get] saying they are a legal guardian).

    -A person who has hippa clearance (like me) and has various pieces of information that they can give as clearance (name, Date of birth, social security, address, patient account #'s, etc). most healthcare workers will require at least three of those things in order to even discuss a patient.

    _____________

    I'm surprised your doctor would talk to your husband about any details of your sessions. as therapists job really depend on the understanding that what their patient's tell them is confidential and private

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    • Idk it's a small town, I guess he just figured it'd be ok

  • Im not from USA, and I guess being the land of the lawsuits you can easily sue the therapist, but, while in my country, physical madical problems are treated in the exact way as in yours, doctor-pacient confidentiality is a MUST, the phsycological ones are a whole different thing, 3 of my aunts are psychologists, while they will not talk behind you back, they will be upfront in that the very first time you go see them they are like "most behavioral or emotional problems can not be solved with only you and I talking, so people around you is expected to be involved in the therapy and WILL be included even if you don't want if I find it necessary" and that is the time in which the patient decides if he/she plays with the rules or not, for instance:

    I took a female friend of mine with one of my aunts, my friends suffered anorexia, but was like "I live with my parents yes, but I'm over age, so I'm an adult and don't want them to know about my problem", to which my aunt replied "sorry but I won't take your case then, and you HAVE to talk with them", to that my friend was like "please, CAN NOT pay for a therapist so I was counting on you, my friend say you will help me for free", my aunt said "sure, if you are my nephew friend I will be glad to work hard to help you for free, BUT no girl, you are wellcome to come here for therapy, but I WILL be informing your parents, if you don't want to, sorry, I will not accept you here"

    most topics in the form of "depression" are also the same here, even if you don't show any sign of suicidal thoughts, the therapist will be informing your people about the nedd to look out for you, which I think is SUCH a pain and uncomfortable, but kind of see their points, the depressed guy will be like "why you did not keep it a secret, I will sue you" (can hardly go forward in my country but yes, people attempt to do it perhaps more often than not) but whatever they acomplsih it won't be half as bad as having the guys brother "you treated my bro and he killed himself, you should have seen it comming, you should have spoken on time to the people that love him", and yes, people will also sue for this.

    you probably have more of a trauma than you let others see, or the therapist feels that way, legal or not, telling a little (or more) to your husband is his way of being like "if her trauma is deep, and becomes deeper while I'm treating her, I will be the one to blame, I strongly feel her husband should know, and if he is informed, if she does have some kind of BAD reaction I can wash my hands and say 'you knew she was having REAL problems sir, I told you about it, as much as law allowed to me, even more! so you should have being more involved for, after all, it was a sexual problem, and you are directly in touch with her sexuallity, I felt you needed to be informed, so I went the extra mile to inform you, can't be blamed for that, you should have talked it over with her and probably have couple therapy but whoever failed here it was not me"

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  • They are supposed to keep strict confidentiality to my knowledge. Anything beyond "She's doing good" is honestly crossing the line on how you are doing. I don't think they can even turn a murder confession into the police.

    My father once asked a marriage counselor something similar and he said the only way he could turn any information over is if a patient told him he was gonna give somebody and gave him a specific time, date, and location.

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  • Doctors are sworn in to patient confidentiality, so he has broken the law by discussing anyones details with anyone else barr another doctor connected to that case or patient,x

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  • Your therapist was wrong to disclose information without your consent. You need to tell him that he may not disclose anything more to your husband.

    But why would you be keeping information that sensitive from your husband when you're having a sexual problem? What is to be gained by allowing the past terrifying event to continue to hold some power over you? You are now a grown adult woman and no longer that weak and vulnerable little girl.

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    • My husband knows roughly wahts going on of course, but there are some things I'd rather not discuss with him in detail

  • patient confidentiality - they're not allowed to discuss anything with your family, and can only tell another professional if they believe that you pose a danger to yourself or others (for example, if you told the therapist that you were planning to murder the rapist, they would have to tell the police).

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  • Unless you signed a release,he shouldn't have told your husband all about it...

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  • Patient confidentiality , they won't break it. They rarely even have a motive to do so. I think you will be fine.

    I also think you should talk about it with your husband , since he is the one you will be having sex with he should know your situation well enough to help you get through with it .

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  • Imo I am unsure if they can or not, that's why I would ask about confidentiality before you even book the first session.

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  • They shouldn't have. Medical doctors have to follow HIPAA (in the US). I would check with a lawyer and sue that therapist if you could.

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  • No

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  • I believe the only thing that can be released is if you are threatening to kill yourself or someone else. Everything else is confidential.

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  • well drs are supposed to keep everything confidential its their job. I wouldn't worry, even if your husband finds out iam sure if he really loves you it won't make him break up with you

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  • I'm shocked by this and I think its very unprofessional of your therapist.

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  • I'm a medical student in the Netherlands.

    They are not allowed to hand out confidential information. Only in specific circumstances:

    - If a courtorder tells them they are allowed to (e.g. whilst in court)

    - If the reason for breaking their confidentiality is more important than the reason for not telling. When you have a disease which your could be suffering from and telling them would increase their chances of a healthy life.

    - When the patient tells him it's allowed.

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  • your therapist is supposed to keep everything confidential, I think maybe your husband just said it to either put you at ease over the situation or he is lying so you can tell him the whole story and can hear it in full for the first time

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  • i believe it is illegal and a violation of HIPAA to disclose anything without your consent. your therapist could lose his license and be subject to civil liability

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  • Ask your therapist. He is the only person that is qualified to answer anything about this.

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  • No. Any information given to a doctor/therapist is supposed to be CONFINDENTIAL and not up for discussion-with anyone.

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  • Nope. You can easily sue for this.

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  • Short answer: Not unless it is imperative for your health.

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  • Uhhh, legally speaking? No, not at all. Realistically speaking? It all depends on the person, and how good you are at getting information from someone.

    Not to sound evil, but I was rather smitten with a girl at my last college, but she acted really weird sometimes, and I couldn't figure it out (we had gone on a few dates)... and I saw her leave after talking to one of the school counselors, a really nice woman. (overheard a tiny bit of what the girl was saying.)

    So I went and talked to the nice counselor, gave her a little story, and she gasped in surprise, brought up the girl on her own, asked me about her, then helpfully recapped pretty much everything that girl had told her.

    So... it depends, really.

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  • The doctor probably told him nothing that he wouldn't have expected a married couple to talk about. He would probably be surprised to know you were keeping things from your husband.

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  • Only if you sign off on it since you're over 18, they legally have to have you sign off on it

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  • Only if withholding the information would mean putting your safety in danger, or others in danger.

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  • There should be a doctor-patient confidentiality when it comes to this stuff. You can sue him if you want to.

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  • Doctor-Patient confidentiality is understood. Because it is personal relations, I believe he was able to disclose it but ask him personally and he will understand.

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What Girls Said 3

  • The first time you went there was a paper that said something along the lines of who can we give medical info to and if you put your husband's name down I believe it's legal!

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  • Only if you pose a threat or are potentially dangerous. Or if you admit to a crime. But they wouldn't disclose that to family, only the police.

    Your therapist shouldn't have told your husband. That was a clear violation of doctor/patient confidentiality.

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  • Only if you're under 18

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