Client confidentiality and data protection
The concept of respect for client confidentiality is a value of central importance to counselling and psychotherapy practice, but it is also one which seems to be increasingly under siege. All training courses will place great emphasis on the crucial necessity of maintaining client confidentiality. However, the difficulties of translating this into day-to-day practice are often left to the individual therapist to negotiate for themselves, relying upon the guidance of somewhat variable quality from their employing organisation. Some of the resultant problems arise from the fact that confidentiality may well be a key value informing ethical practice, but it is also one which is heavily constrained by contextual factors. These factors can include employment, such as whether the therapist is working in a statutory or voluntary agency, or is working in private practice. Confidentiality is, at the same time, a legal concept, with many different connotations. The deceptively simple concept of keeping client information ‘confidential’ is often beset with challenges or constraints, which make this a highly problematic issue to work with in actual practice.