Group therapy confidentiality

Does doctor patient confidentiality cover group therapy?

Trickier: how about less formal group therapy situations where an actual doctor might not be present like bereavement groups, and AA meetings?

Assuming there is some confidentiality, is there protection against infiltration?

Anyone? :wink:

I believe that in formal group therapy (that is, with a doctor facilitating), there is supposed to be in-group confidentiality. What’s said in group is supposed to stay in group. That means the other group members as well, aren’t supposed to talk outside the group about what went on in group. (I can’t guess how reliably you could count on this to happen.)

I was in one group once where the facilitator made this clear at the start. I’ve been in other groups where this wasn’t mentioned. Make what you will of that, I suppose.

(Paradoxical anecdote: I dropped out of that group (the one where the facilitator said that) after just a few sessions. A few weeks later, I encountered that faciliator elsewhere (at an ice skating rink, to be specific). She remarked that it was a shame I dropped out, that some people really started talking about things, and she began going into specifics. I interrupted her and reminded her that I wasn’t in the group any more and she shouldn’t be telling me those things. Then she shut up. Make what you will of THAT.)

I have no idea, really, of what kind of confidentiality you could expect from other, less formal, groups. I always thought that AA, at least, made it clear that they expect members to keep it confidential; that’s why they strictly use first names only. In any case, I have no idea what any legal requirements there may be in any of these kinds of groups.

ETA: If, by infiltration, you mean, e.g., spying by law enforcement or similar, I really have NO idea what the rules about that are. Are you asking if, for example, anything said in group could be used in an investigation, or in court against someone?

A friend of mine attended an AA meeting which was also attended by Peter Frampton. Pretty sure he wasn’t supposed to tell…but who wouldn’t?

Well the HIPPA is for the doctor not the other patients. There are general rules for groups but I would think it’d be difficult for them to enforce confidentiality. Sure the therapist must keep quiet but the other people in the group.

They’re supposed to, but how could you enforce it?

By refusing to see them if they can’t follow the most basic of rules.

Doctor/patient confidentiality only covers the doctor, and would apply in any situation, single or group therapy. I’m kind of hazy on this but it has to be a licensed therapist with at least a master’s degree (I think) or a licensed physician.

However, the other group members, while they aren’t supposed to say who’s in the group, along with various other rules, aren’t really held to the same standard. As in the AA example.

The anonymity in 12-step groups is by tradition and what is shared isn’t covered by HIPAA or any other privacy law.

In fact, there has been at least one criminal case that came about because an AA member disclosed a crime in a meeting, and the court held that this disclosure wasn’t covered by any sort of privilege.

There has also been at least one documented case of criminal charges being filedbecause police had an informant infiltrate a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Given that anyone can attend a 12-step meeting without going through a screening process, and that there is no privilege extended to these groups, I’m surprised that there hasn’t been more infiltration. Indeed, one piece of advice I’ve heard is to do the Fifth Step (“Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs”) with an attorney or a clergyman so that any admission of criminal activity is covered by at least some privilege, and that someone who is familiar with the law can advise the client as to how to proceed. The other good piece of advice I’ve gotten is to watch what you say at meetings, because you don’t know who may be listening and be motivated to act.