Discussion Essay Sample

Healthcare organizations and professionals have a legal and ethical responsibility to protect the privacy and confidentiality of patient data. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal legislation that has established a set of standards for protection of certain health information. In addition, different professions have ethical codes of conduct that require their members to adhere to and respect patients’ confidentiality.

Thus, healthcare providers and professionals should be careful on the type of patient information that they share with other parties. Confidentiality is built on the values of autonomy and fidelity, and to some extent beneficence and nonmaleficence. It is considered as a vital factor in maintaining healthy therapeutic relationships between therapists and their clients. Therapists in group and family therapy should inform their clients about their shared role in supporting confidentiality.

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Group and family therapy brings together people who have similar issues to share their experiences and support each other in the recovery process. These settings usually magnify the issue of confidentiality of health information that is shared among group members. Although therapists understand the need to ensure patient information is protected from unauthorized parties, there is no guarantee that members will uphold the same expectation. As a result, there is a possibility of a breach of confidentiality by other members. This is an aspect that might affect trust and therapeutic relationships as patients expect full confidentiality irrespective of the setting. This means that therapists in group settings might encounter complex issues that might compromise their ability to improve patient outcomes. Therapists usually encourage their clients to embrace self-disclosure in order to facilitate the recovery process. In case of a breach of confidentiality, group members might blame them and compromise their path to recovery. As a result, therapists should be honest with their clients about confidentiality limits in group settings.

Therapists should start conversations about confidentiality at the start of the therapeutic relationship. It is always expected that they should uphold the concept of autonomy by seeking informed consent from clients before making any therapeutic decisions. As a result, they should educate their patients on their roles and responsibilities in group therapy and limits of confidentiality.

They should teach members about the need to maintain confidentiality and potential implications of breaching it. Therapists should clearly indicate that there are circumstances that they might have a legal duty to break it. The situations should be fully explained to ensure that clients know how to handle personal information. Clients should also be aware that the therapist cannot promise that other members will maintain the requirement. This will improve their awareness on their conduct and type of information they will share with colleagues. It is because it is difficult and unrealistic for a therapist to assure group members absolute confidentiality. However, they should encourage them to uphold the requirement as it is one of the most important norms in a therapeutic relationship.

The analysis above shows that there are limits to confidentiality in group and family settings as there are many people involved in a therapeutic relationship. In spite of the difficulties, therapists should make an effort to educate members about the issue and the need to respect each other’s information. Informed consent is likely to make members understand their responsibilities and assist the therapist to uphold and protect the confidentiality of their information.

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