Informed Consent and Confidentiality Essay

This paper defines informed consent and confidentiality, and compares and contrasts their relationship. According to the findings of Boylan (2013), informed consent is a permissible process that aims at ensuring that research participants, clients, and/or patients are informed about all the possible costs and risks that are involved in a proposed psychotherapeutic or medical procedure. The only way to achieve informed consent is to ensure that a client, either medical or psychotherapeutic is made to comprehend the essential facts, benefits and risks. Besides, a client should, also, be provided with a range of alternative methods that could be involved in the process. From a psychotherapeutic perspective, Welfel (2012) defines confidentiality as a code of professional ethics or values that demand suppliers of medical or mental healthcare to cease from revealing any details concerning a person such as remedial tactics, their illness, name and any other information given to the physician during evaluation, diagnosis or treatment. Confidentiality of information is highlighted as a critical component in the course of therapy. It is an essential factor that establishes a psychologically safe environment that a participant may desire in order to explore confusing and difficult aspects that surround their selves and their lives. In the event that confidentiality is absent, many people would not be willing to share personal information, which would then reduce the benefits that should be derived from therapy.

In considering the comparison between informed consent and confidentiality, it is significant to note that both comprise a respected aspect of code of ethics in medical and psychotherapeutic procedures. The second comparison between informed consent and confidentiality is that both processes mostly involve interaction between patients or clients and experts in medical in the medical profession (Welfel, 2012). These experts could be doctors, clinical officers, nurses, physiotherapists, or psychotherapists.

In considering the contrast between informed consent and confidentiality, it is essential to consider a number of things. It is significant to note that informed consent is a permissible process that aims at ensuring that research participants, clients, and/or patients are informed about all the possible costs and risks that are involved in a proposed psychotherapeutic or medical procedure. The main issue surrounding the concept of information consent is that an individual possesses the right to make decisions regarding the kinds of things that should be done to him. This, also, implies that an individual decides the kind of experimental, clinical, medical, or psychotherapeutic treatment that he should receive. According to the assertions of Welfe, (2012), informed consent provides an opportunity for clients to make sane decisions regarding their healthcare as well as well as any other involvement with treatment, clinical trials or health research. In most cases, before informed consent is achieved, there has to be dialogue or exchange of information between the client and the therapist. This is significant for providing clients with a basis for making decisions in line with the information received. The only way to achieve informed consent is to ensure that a client, either medical or psychotherapeutic is made to comprehend the essential facts, benefits and risks. It, also, requires that a client be provided with a range of alternative methods that could be involved in the process.

Confidentiality, on the other hand, is a code of professional ethics or values that demand suppliers of medical or mental healthcare to cease from revealing any details concerning a person such as remedial tactics, their illness, name and any other information given to the physician during evaluation, diagnosis or treatment (Welfel, 2012). Confidentiality requires that whatever information a therapist receives from a client should be treated with privacy. It requires therapists or medical attendants to protect and respect the privacy and the dignity of the clients they interact with. This, therefore, implies that a high expectation remains on their side to prevent unauthorized access or accidental disclosure of confidential information. It is an essential factor that establishes a psychologically safe environment that a participant may desire in order to explore confusing and difficult aspects that surround their selves and their lives.

There are limits to confidentiality, which should be discussed ahead of a psychotherapeutic process so that the patient can understand the conditions that would require the counsellor to break confidentiality. Some of the limitations include disclosure of confidential information following the counsellor’s judgment that the patient has a high potential of inflicting extreme harm on him or herself. This is because suicidal thoughts may exist among some patients, especially students. In this case, the law mandates the counsellor with a duty to warn who may have plans of causing harm to other people. This is significant so that the intended victim can be informed and, also, notify legal authorities. Vulnerable adults and children comprise another limitation to confidentiality. The law permits mental health professional to report suspected or stated abuse of a vulnerable adult or child to the legal authorities or relevant social service agencies. In the case of female clients, another limitation prenatal exposure to controlled substances (Boylan, 2013). Since some controlled substances have potentially harmful effects to the fetus, the law allows mental health professionals to report admitted use of such substances in the course of pregnancy.

There are several things that should be included in the letter of consent for a participant to be in a psychological research. First is the project title which can entail researching the influence of something say ‘x’ on something else say ‘y’. Second, general research aims should be described, and the people sending invitation should say who they are. The letter should, also, describe the tasks that the participant will be required to perform (Welfel, 2012). The letter should, also, state time commitment as well as the rights of participants. It should, also, state the benefits and risks, cost, compensation and reimbursement. Failure to honor informed consent and confidentiality amounts to failure to respect the autonomy of patients, and therefore, becomes a form of betrayal. There are several legal Acts that would be employed to address this violation. Some of them include Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, and Mental Health Act of 1983/2007 (Boylan, 2013). There are relevant steps that should be taken to ensure that clients understand informed consent and confidentiality policies. The processes has to begin at the point of interaction between clients and counsellors. Clients have to be informed of their rights and responsibilities in the expected process. These rights and responsibilities are reviewed either in written or verbal form. Counsellors are expected to inform clients about the services they should expect. In regard to confidentiality, counsellors have obligation to ensure that clients understand limitations of confidentiality throughout the process.

In conclusion, this paper defined informed consent and confidentiality, and compares and contrasts their relationship. The only way to achieve informed consent is to ensure that a client, either medical or psychotherapeutic is made to comprehend the essential facts, benefits and risks. Confidentiality is an essential factor that establishes a psychologically safe environment that a participant may desire in order to explore confusing and difficult aspects that surround their selves and their lives.


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