A therapist worked with a couple for several years following mutual infidelity. The couple separated after two years in treatment and is in the midst of divorce proceedings. The husband requests access to his records. What actions should the therapist take to address the legal issues presented in this case?
a. Inform the husband that the records belong to both the husband and wife and would require a release of information from both.
b. Request a written release from the husband and turn over all of the records, but redact information deemed detrimental to the wife’s well-being or therapeutic relationship.
c. Determine how access to records would affect the therapeutic relationship and the well being of the husband and wife.
d. Inform the husband that records belong to both the husband and wife and request the wife sign a release.
- The best answer to this question is A. The husband is requesting records, but the client is the couple and the therapist would need both members of the treatment unit to authorize release of records before doing so.
- Answer B is too limiting in what would be redacted. Without a release from her, the therapist would need to redact all information for the wife, not just information that could be detrimental.
- Answer C would be an option if an individual were requesting records, but that is not the scenario provided in this question.
- Answer D is incorrect because the therapist is requesting the wife sign a release, which is inappropriate. Answer D would be better if the answer had the therapist asking the wife what she would like to do in response to the request, but the therapist should not request the wife sign a release.
This topic is explored in much greater detail in our second CE course and our social work and MFT programs prepare you for all of the legal and ethical questions that could show up on your exams!
Which answer did you choose? Does the rationale fit with your understanding of the law and how you would apply it in a clinical setting? Or did you learn something new with this scenario? If you have any further questions feel free to check in with a TDC coach. We are here to support you all along the way. And if you came up with the same answer-great job! You are on the right track to getting licensed.
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