Dad Reporting Son's Therapist for Spilling Secrets to His Stepdad Applauded

A parent has been praised after reporting his son's therapist for breaking confidentiality and telling the boy's stepfather what they had discussed during a session.

In a post on Reddit, a user called Salinasjr36 explained that his 14-year-old son had recently lost his dog. The teen had stopped speaking after his pet's death, so his father signed him up for therapy.

Counseling for children and young people "is provided by specially trained therapists in the specific needs of this group," relationship therapist Krystal Woodbridge told Newsweek.

"Different methods may be used to encourage children to be able to express their difficulties, such as drama, play and art. This will be tailored individually to the child's needs."

In the Reddit case, just two weeks after the 14-year-old's therapy sessions began, he called his father upset.

Salinasjr36 wrote: "My son called crying, saying his stepdad punished him by taking his bicycle and selling it for no reason. I was livid. I went to have a word with his stepdad and he told me that there was a reason and that is the fact that my son 'badmouthed' him to the therapist, and claimed that he treated the dog poorly."

Teen upset and man angry on phone
File photo of an upset teenage boy and stock image of an angry man on the phone. The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act sets out clear guidelines for what kind of information should be kept private. bodnarchuk/Daisy-Daisy/Getty Images

The father went on: "I was floored at this. I had an argument with him and asked how the hell he knew and told him to prove that my son said all that. He showed me texts between him and my son's therapist. So basically… the therapist had been giving out private info about a bunch of stuff my son talked about in therapy."

The American Psychological Association says therapy is most effective when participants feel they can be open and honest about their private thoughts and behaviors, underlining the importance of confidentiality.

Confidentiality is both a legal and ethical issue in the therapy environment. Generally speaking, therapists are prohibited from disclosing confidential information to any third party, unless mandated or permitted by law to do so. Exceptions include when reporting child, elder or dependent adult abuse, occasionally when insurers need to be made aware of diagnostic information, and if there is illegal activity or immediate risk of harm.

The Health Information Portability and Accountability Act also sets out clear guidelines for what kind of information should be kept private and establishes guidelines for sharing personal health information.

After seeing the messages sent to the stepfather, the boy's father confronted the therapist. "We had a huge argument. I told him I was going to report him after he defended himself, saying the reason he gave my son's stepdad this info was because of concern as 'a parent'. I said that I don't give a s*** what the justification was, and went on with my report."

Once the report had been filed, Salinasjr36 received a call from his son's mother, who was angry at him. "She blew up at me on the phone calling me a controlling a**hole for what I did," he wrote.

"I ignored her calls after that, but my own wife thought I made a hasty decision and that the real problem was with my son's stepdad not the therapist. Was I in the wrong for reporting him?"

In more than 1,000 replies to the viral post, Redditors overwhelmingly sided with the dad and expressed their shock at the counselor's behavior.

One commenter wrote: "Hey. I'm a therapist. What this therapist did was against the law. Your son was not in danger of hurting himself or someone else. There was nothing helpful that could have come of the therapist telling stepdad this info."

Another Redditor posted: "There's a reason those conversations are private. Not even the parents should know what is talked about."

A third commenter wrote: "The fact that the therapist doesn't think he did anything wrong is astounding. At the very least, your son will no longer trust him and has probably done some psychological damage to him."

Newsweek has reached out to Salinasjr36 for comment. We have been unable to verify the details of this case.

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