What is a “counsellor therapist”?
I know what a medical practitioner is. I know what a psychologist is. I know what a physiotherapist is. I know what a legal counsel is. I know what a massage therapist is.
I don’t know what a “counsellor therapist” is.
The point I am belabouring here is that you have identified a profession that the law may not recognise. Is this a regulated profession or can anyone hang up a slate saying “counsellor therapist” and start charging fees?
Notwithstanding, let’s assume that this person is working in a profession recognised by law and subject to mandatory ethical standards.
There are basically four situations regarding reporting of what is revealed:
- Privilege - the information cannot be shared but even if it is it cannot be used against the person who owns the privilege.
- Mandatory reporting - where the person is obliged by law or contract to revel the information.
- A duty of confidentiality - where the person is obliged by law, ethical standards, or contract to keep the information confidential.
- None of the above - where reporting or not reporting is at the discretion of the person.
In Canadian common law, there are three types of privilege: lawyer-client, litigation, and situations that meets the Wigmore criteria. None seem applicable to your situation.
The Wigmore criteria may apply to the relationship described but it is a cas by case test, not a blanket rule.
All Canadian provinces have mandatory reporting for, among others, health professionals for child physical and sexual abuse and 8 of 10 have laws for reporting exposure to intimate partner violence. There is a national law that requires mandatory reporting of child pornography.
Some jurisdictions, although I don’t believe any in Canada do, require reporting of serious offences by anyone who becomes aware of them.
Contractural reporting obligations generally arise when the therapist is not your therapist. For example, where the therapist is employed by the court, the prison service, your employer etc. In these circumstances, not only do they not have a duty of confidence, they may have a positive duty to report and analyse what you say and do.
A common law duty of confidentiality arises whenever confidential information is imparted in circumstances of confidentiality. A normal therapist-patient relationship would normally qualify.
In addition, if the therapist operates under a mandatory code of ethics, that will normally address confidentiality and the circumstances in which it can be broken. In addition to “when required by law”, these often include disclosure to further your treatment or to prevent harm to yourself or others.
In addition, you may have a contract with the therapist that deals with confidentiality.
None of the above
In this case, its a matter for the therapist’s conscience.