Posted by & filed under Intervention: Adults-Couples, Legal Ethical Issues, Treatment of Psychological Disorders.

Description: If a psychotherapist is going to write a book and in that book they’re going to use some of their interactions with their actual clients to illustrate the points they’re making in the book what ethical requirements should they meet? It’s obvious that anonymity is important. If you were a lawyer advising a psychologist writing such a book what would you tell them to do? After you’ve answered this question read the article and see if your recommendations match up with the experiences of this particular psychologist and author.

Source: Should Therapists Write About Patients?, Gary Greenberg, Opinionator, New York Times.

Date: April 19, 2016


Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Links: Article Link —

So how did your advice match up with the advice offered to Gary Greenberg by his lawyer? Had it occurred to you that it may not be enough to anonymize clients to the point where other people wouldn’t recognize them? Did you think about the issue of whether or not the clients would recognize themselves? The therapeutic relationship is one that is based very heavily on confidentiality and trust, and on the understanding that the conversations that are happening between client and therapists are just that, conversations solely between one client and one therapist. It certainly seems likely that a lot of what goes on in therapy would not happen clients needed to be constantly concerned about how much of what they had to say would later be repeated or written about.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What guidelines did the psychology author’s lawyer suggest he follow in using examples from his therapy practice in his book?
  2. Once he reflected on the perspective that his lawyer was taking on the question did the psychology author’s perspective on the question of confidentiality and anonymity of clients in the context of his writing change?
  3. How do issues of confidentiality and anonymity, not just in book writing but also in lectures, and even in day-to-day conversation of psychologists with colleagues and friends, apply? For a therapeutic perspective why might these issues be important?

References (Read Further):

Zaki, M. (2014). Ethical Issues in the Relationship between the Psychologist as Therapist and the Patient, The. Med. & L., 33, 3.

Margolin, G. (1982). Ethical and legal considerations in marital and family therapy. American Psychologist, 37(7), 788.

Gustafson, K. E., & McNamara, J. R. (1987). Confidentiality with minor clients: Issues and guidelines for therapists. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 18(5), 503.