A group leader discusses the legal aspects of confidentiality; the reasons for confidentiality and, the impact on the group because of a lack of, or breach of confidentiality. The facilitator summarizes the member’s responsibility for keeping confidentiality by stating “Anything that happens here stays here.” In this presentation of the importance of confidentiality in the group, the facilitator fails to point out how confidentiality can be violated in subtle ways, and how confidences may well be divulged without malice.
Confidentiality involves more than just legal policies. In the above instance, the facilitator may have given specific examples of how confidences are often broken inadvertently and provided guidelines for the group members. Corey and Corey discuss their practice, and report that they have found that, when confidentiality leaks have occurred, it is often the result of carelessness rather than malice. They indicate that they have made it a practice to spell out the boundaries of confidentiality during the screening interview or at a pre-group session. They address problems of confidentiality again when appropriate during the course of the group. Facilitators may, and probably should, also discuss the instances or situations when confidentiality may need to be breached or information divulged.
Question for discussion: Describe several hypothetical situations in which confidentiality could be violated indirectly. In these instances, what steps might you take to ensure confidentiality and/or repair rapport within the group when confidentiality is broken?