Know your Rights: What CAN & CAN’T a Therapist tell your Caregiver

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Most of what you say to a therapist is confidential. As a preteen or teenager, therapists understand that you are becoming more and more independent from your parents, and as such, realize that you are entitled to privacy. Therapists will rarely disclose any personal information to your parents unless they’re concerned about your safety or the safety of somebody else.

  • An example of when a therapist might break your confidentiality agreement is if you told them that you had a plan to end your life. They would not call your parents for things that are typical for preteens and teenagers to try, like going to a party.
  • Another important aspect of confidentiality is that therapists are usually mandated reporters, meaning that they must file a report with a child protective agency if you disclose any suspected abuse or neglect that you experience. Mandated reporters are legally obligated to report abuse and neglect on any adult who is doing you harm, but they will almost always inform you prior to filing the report.

Laws for confidentiality vary depending on where you live, so make sure to ask your therapist about what you can expect for privacy during your first appointment.