Are psychotherapists consistent in their ethical attitude to patient confidentiality?

Silvana Fennig, Aya Seeker, Yechiel Levkovitz, Vered Barak, Motty Benyakar, Jorje Farina, David Roe, Ilan Treves, Shmuel Fennig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The issue of confidentiality often causes an ethical dilemma for the psychotherapist. Aims of the study: We investigated if therapists are consistent in their attitude to confidentiality or judge each case on its own merit. Methods: A questionnaire consisting of a series of clinical vignettes representing different ethical dilemmas in confidentiality in psychotherapy was completed by 93 therapists of different professional backgrounds and by a control group of 55 students from the fields of law and the humanities. Results: Subjects in both groups were inconsistent in their attitude to confidentiality in two-thirds of cases, and most of the participants based their decisions on the particular history and circumstances of each case. Conclusion: The rules guiding psychotherapists for the disclosure of confidential information are unclear. These findings failed to pinpoint a common denominator to explain the manner in which professionals handle information that may demand a break of confidentiality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-89
Number of pages8
JournalIsrael Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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