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Exploring Unique Issues in Couples and Family Work

Exploring Unique Issues in Couples and Family Work

One can experience several issues when working with children and families. For instance, the issue of confidentiality arises when working with children. It is usually difficult to decide whether to share certain information with a child’s parents or not. This occurs when a child is involved in bad behavioral activities that he/she does not want the parents to know. Those providing care for a whole family may find it difficult to solve issues for each family member (Behnke and Warner, 2002). A therapist providing mental health care for a particular family may need to meet each family member individually rather than collectively addressing the whole family case (Lindsey, 1996). Besides, a therapist would be required to keep the information about every family member confidential. This would be very difficult if the information is required to solve an issue faced by a member of the same family.

While practicing, I expect to face several issues related to confidentiality. For instance, I might expect to face an issue where a teenage girl is facing complications of abortion, and I do not have to tell her parents about it. I need to obtain informed consent from the girl before sharing the information with her parents. Although I need to keep such information in this case, it would be important if I explained to her parents the issues she is facing. Therefore, I would be left in a dilemma. In case the complications due to abortion worsen, and the girl ends up dying, the girl’s parents might sue me for hiding information that would help in managing her condition. This scenario is comparable to a situation where a child informs you not to share certain information with his/her parents. As a healthcare professional, you must keep the information confidential per the child’s wish. Sharing the information would mean you are infiltrating the child’s privacy.

While practicing, there is the possibility of being in a situation where one member of a couple tells you a secret that he/she expects you not to tell their spouse. In such a scenario, you need to assure the spouse that everything shared will remain confidential and no one will know about it. This would make him/her share all the necessary information to help solve his/her problem. In addition, the spouse will trust you more in the future when you do not share the information. Even though you need to respect a spouse’s decision not to share information with his/her partner, it would be important for you to suggest to him/her the need to share certain information (Reiter & Runyan, 2013). This is especially important for information that would help solve the problems faced by the other partner. However, you do not have to share the information if the partner insists on the confidentiality of the information. This would make you continue with the good relationship between you and the couple. Moreover, there would be more adverse effects, such as the couple divorcing due to the information you shared. Therefore, it would be important to respect the decision of the spouse by not sharing the information.

Some of the discussion questions I learned after reading the articles include:

  1. How would you handle a situation in which a spouse does not want you to tell her partner about her HIV status?
  2. How would you handle a situation in which an adolescent boy does not want you to tell his parents that he abuses drugs?
  3. Do you always have to apply the code of ethics when handling family issues?
  4. Do you have to convince a patient to give out confidential information?
  5. A child gives you information that is a serious threat to his health but he does not want you to tell his parents about it. How would you handle such a situation?


Behnke, S., & Warner, E. (2002). Confidentiality in the treatment of adolescents. Retrieved 8 December 2020, from

Lindsey, M. L. (1996). Ethical issues in interviewing, counseling, and the use of psychological data with child and adolescent clients. Fordham Law Review, 64(4), 2035–2052.

Reiter, J., & Runyan, C. (2013). The ethics of complex relationships in primary care behavioral health. Families, Systems, & Health, 31(1), 20–27.


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Exploring Unique Issues in Couples and Family Work

Read the four articles provided in this week’s topic materials. After reading the articles, respond to the questions/prompts listed below. Each response should be approximately 100 to 150 words.

  1. What are some of the unique issues that those working with families and children may experience? List as many as you can think of.
  2. Compare those issues with those you may encounter when working with individual clients.
  3. How you would handle a situation where one member of a couple told you a secret and asked you to keep it from their spouse.
  4. Create five discussion prompts/questions that cover what you learned from these articles.
Exploring Unique Issues in Couples and Family Work

Exploring Unique Issues in Couples and Family Work

  1. 1. Confidentiality in the Treatment of Adolescents
  2. 2. The Ethics of Complex Relationships in Primary Care Behavioral Health (Attached)
    • Authors:
    • Reiter, Jeff
    • Runyan, Christine
  3. 3. Ethical Issues in Interviewing, Counseling, and the Use of Psychological Data With Child and Adolescent Clients

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