January 21, 2015
A Therapist Quandary
When you look at the case of the husband who started individual counseling then his wife joined with the intentions of saving their marriage there are many ethical issues that could arise for the therapist. First there is the issue of the secret the husband is hiding about his latest affair, because the counselor did not clearly state her policy on keeping secrets the husband has an expectation of her keeping his secret about his affair. The therapist cannot tell the wife without breaking the confidentiality of the husband, however how can she continue to treat them as a couple if she has to hold this information from the wife when part of the condition for the wife to work on fixing their marriage is based on no further affairs from her husband? The therapist also ...view middle of the document...
Therapists respect and guard confidences of each individual client,” therefore making it impossible for her to share with the wife what the husband has shared with her.
The best way for the therapist to handle the ethical issue of confidentiality would be to have a conversation with the husband explaining to him that it would be in the best interest of fixing the marriage if he reveals to his wife about his latest affair. This would allow her to continue working with the two of them to repair their marriage and fix any problems that they are dealing with. It also gives the wife a choice of whether or not she wants to continue with counseling or even the marriage itself. She should also explain that he is taking away the wife’s choices through lies and that this is unhealthy for the marriage for both of them. During individual sessions the therapist should dig deeper with the husband to find out why he is having a hard time being faithful and if he really wants the marriage or if he just does not want his wife to move on without him because of control issues. Maybe in doing this she can help him fix his own issues, therefore helping the marriage.
If the therapist cannot convince his to tell his wife or stop the affair and she is conflicted the best thing to do would be to refer the couple to someone else for couple’s therapy even if she could continue the individual therapy with the couple. Under no circumstances should the therapist tell the wife what was said to her in the individual session with the husband, nor should she say anything that would imply it was because of the husband that she can no longer do couple’s therapy with them. Although as helpers we may want to tell the person who is being lied to, our job is to help the couple to help fix their own issues and they both must want to do so.
References: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (2001)