The relationship between a therapist and client is the foundation of the therapeutic process. Knowing that private information cannot be disclosed without written permission creates a sense of safety for clients. The law protects this relationship and the client's right to privacy. There are a few situations that would require a therapist to break confidentiality. All circumstances imply that there is a true and imminent threat to someone's welfare. These exceptions include:
- If a therapist suspects child abuse or neglect, dependent adult abuse or neglect, or elder abuse or neglect, the therapist is required by law to make a report to the appropriate authorities immediately.
- If a client threatens serious bodily harm to another person, therapists are mandated by law to alert the police and the intended victim.
- If a client intends to seriously harm himself or herself, every effort is made to enlist cooperation in ensuring their own safety. If not, a therapist is required to take further measures to ensure the client's safety, without the client's permission.