Therapists are tasked with being secret keepers.
The first layer of secrecy seems easy and simple. Maintaining client confidentiality. You can probably recite the limits of confidentiality off the top of your head, and you probably do it regularly during intake sessions.
Everything else goes in the vault. But the vault isn’t a what, it’s a who. The vault is us.
We mostly talk about confidentiality from the client’s perspective. The absolutely crucial nature of it, the ethical dilemmas that come up when we have to breach it, how the client’s understanding of confidentiality impacts the therapeutic process… All very important things.
But we rarely talk about what confidentiality means for therapists beyond a set of rules or ethical puzzles to navigate.
What does it really mean for us as therapists to be the bearers of all of this confidential information about other human beings?
Content note: References to interpersonal traumas
Riva Stoudt is a therapist based in Portland, Oregon. When she's not working with patients, she likes to talk about all the things a therapist isn't "supposed" to talk about.