Professional secrecy in psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is a confidential service.

The content of the meetings remains private. It is indeed essential that what is said in a climate of confidence such as that of a psychologist's office does not leave the office. Otherwise, how to inspire this trust from the customer? On the other hand, how to offer a psychotherapy process if an ingredient as important as trust is lacking?

Professional secrecy

Trust is at the root of the therapeutic relationship and would be compromised without confidentiality.

Confidentiality in psychotherapy

Confidentiality is an important foundation of trust in a psychotherapist.


That's why the confidentiality of what is said in therapy is assured, except in one of the following four exceptional situations:

  • he therapist has serious reasons to believe that a person's safety is imminently compromised. The therapist is then obliged by law to contact the necessary persons (eg police authorities, the person concerned, etc.) to prevent a crime. This clause also includes dangers regarding the safety of the client him- or herself.               
  • The therapist has                  serious reasons to believe that a child's development is compromised. Again, the therapist is required by law to contact the necessary persons (eg, the Youth Protection Branch, the parent(s) of the child, etc.) to try to correct the situation.               
  • When the client him- or herself consents to the information contained in his or her file being communicated to a third party. In the context of psychotherapy in private practice, the nature of the information as well as the reasons for which the client wishes this information to be communicated will be discussed during the session.               
  • Finally, in the extraordinary situation where, during a trial, a judge relieves the therapist of his or her professional secrecy, he or she will communicate sparingly the information he or she is asked to disclose.               

These exceptions are intended to protect the public. The practice of psychotherapy is supervised by a professional order: the Ordre des psychologues du Québec. For more details, visit the code of ethics surrounding the practice of psychotherapy (in French) on the site of the Ordre des psychologues du Québec

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