THE CONFIDENTIALITY ETHIC
"When is a secret not a secret?"
The Right to Privacy. Clients receiving service from holistic or alternative practitioners, including Healing Ministers, have a right to privacy. That means you and I, all of us who seek help from complementary health-care providers, have a right to confidentiality.
The fact that you are receiving health-supportive service is a private matter. The information you reveal in the course of your sessions is also personal, private, and nobody's business but your own. If you want to tell a friend or family member about it, it's your news to share. But your practitioner must keep your confidence.
The Importance of Privacy. Why is privacy important? So that you, as a client, feel safe enough with your practitioner to allow yourself to heal and grow. People functioning in a self-protection mode do not grow and develop to their God-given potential. People who feel safe are naturally empowered to grow and develop to their full capacity.
Consequently, if Healing Ministers and other holistic caregivers want their clients to heal and become the fully functional individuals that their potential promises, it is essential that they honor their clients' trust and keep their confidence. Completely. Well…, as completely as possible, that is.
Confidentiality and the Law. Because confidentiality is not a legal mandate in most helping professions, there are legal limits to confidentiality. As a consumer of health-care services, you need to be aware of those limits.
There are exceptions, of course. Confidences shared between patient and medical doctor, client and legal counsel, and parishioner and priest, are privileged in most jurisdictions. “Priv-“ means private” and “leg-“ means legal or by law. Therefore, privileged communication is “not subject to disclosure in a court of law” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary).
However, counselors, therapists, and many other personal service providers are required by law to report to authorities when they have reason to believe that a client presents a serious danger to self or another. The same legal requirement holds when a minor child and, in some jurisdictions, a senior person, is being abused or may be abused. For that reason, it is fair, respectful, and very important that your Healing Minister and other professional helpers inform you of the legal limits to confidentiality before obtaining any personal information from you or providing you with service.
You may find that some alternative health practitioners hesitate, or simply forget, to outline the legal limits to confidentiality. Some feel that speaking of such limits will raise your “caution quotient,” making you less likely to open up and share your concerns. Fortunately, that does not happen.
In fact, informing you in a clear, straightforward fashion of the legal limits to confidentiality is more likely to have a paradoxical or opposite effect. It will impress you positively. When practitioners outline the limits to privacy, you know that they value safety above all and they will not knowingly allow harm to you or anyone else if they can prevent it.
Confidentiality and Ethics. It may be argued that communication between Healing Ministers of the Church of Healing Energy and their clients or congregants is privileged under law which protects parishioner-priest confidences. In some jurisdictions, that may indeed be the case. However, in jurisdictions where such terms as “priest” and “rabbi” are defined as representing certain religious denominations only, legal privilege may not apply to other ministers.
For that reason, in the CHE, the issue of confidentiality is defined in the Church Code of Ethics as an ethical principle. The ethical principle of confidentiality follows the spirit and intent of law which requires reporting in case of danger to a client or others.
The Code of Ethics confidentiality principle for CHE Healing Ministers is this:
Confidentiality: Healing ministers must keep confidential all information about clients obtained in the course of ministerial and healing service. They are responsible for informing clients of any legal limits to confidentiality prior to obtaining personal information or providing service. Personal information is shared with others only with the client's written consent or in, in rare circumstances, where there is clear and imminent danger to the individual or other persons.
It is the responsibility of all Healing Ministers of the CHE to provide their clients with a copy of the Church Code of Ethics which includes that exact statement and/or the Church “Client Information - Code of Ethics” handout which contains the following confidentiality statements:
Confidentiality: As a healing minister,
~ I must keep confidential all information that I obtain about you as my client, including all notes and documents, unless release is compelled by court order or necessary for your safety.
~ I must inform you of any legal limits to confidentiality before obtaining personal information or providing service to you.
But a printed privacy statement provided by your Healing Minister or other health-care provider may not always be clear or informative enough. Talking with you and answering your questions about confidentiality are also important so that you understand exactly how secret your secrets are with your professional helper.
Secrets and Safety - the Bottom Line. A hallmark of professional practice in personal service is “The Confidentiality Ethic.” The ethic of confidentiality provides you, the client, with a level of privacy and safety that supports positive change as you work with your Healing Minister or other alternative practitioners.
Client confidentiality guarantees that your secrets are safe…as long as they pose no clear and present danger to yourself or others. But when they do pose a serious danger, whether to yourself or to someone else, your secret is no longer a secret.
©Church of Healing Energy-2006-2010