One of the lesser known aspects of psychotherapy is the rule of confidentiality.
This rule (which by the way is not a binding part of Thai law yet, but handled
very strictly in most Western countries) basically says that everything a client
tells in the context of an ongoing psychotherapy has to remain between the
therapist and the client/patient. In my home country Austria, psychotherapists
are not even allowed to inform married partners about the diagnosis or whether
the spouse or wife has been attending a therapy session or not. Clients can
release the therapist from this constraint, but only to a certain extent. In
court, psychotherapists are not allowed to reveal details of the therapeutic
conversations as well. Exceptions to the rule of confidentiality are usually
only allowed in cases where there is imminent danger.
While this regulation might sound awkward to some, it makes
perfect sense. It guarantees a safe place for patients where they can trustfully
express their deepest feelings and weakest points without having to fear that
anyone else will ever hear about them. In times where more and more slices of
our ‘privacy’ are taken away from us by governments and electronic means, and
where society has developed some very tight models of ‘politically correct’
thinking, it can be very important to be able to have at least one place where
you can express your thoughts, concerns, or your most delicate problems, being
sure that they will remain inside the 4 walls of the therapist’s practice.
It has happened more than just a few times, for instance,
where men told me about pedophile or violent fantasies or where women told about
certain sex-related issues or problems trying to find a partner; only if such
thoughts can be expressed and openly talked about without having to fear being
looked down upon it is possible to put these very delicate issues into
perspective and to develop strategies on how to deal with them better than
before, or maybe even to resolve the situation by applying new ideas and
The rule of confidentiality alone is a good reason why
someone seeing a psychotherapist or counselor doesn’t have to consider
themselves as ‘weak’ or ‘mental’. Having an atmosphere where one can openly talk
about their problems with someone who will take a neutral position and just
tries to support as effectively as possible can be reason enough. If you are not
sure how your therapist or counselor handles the rule of confidentiality, just
ask. It’s a sign of professionalism if you receive a straight answer on it.
Live the happy life you planned! Richard L.
Fellner is head of the Counseling Center Pattaya in Soi Kopai and
offers consultations in English and German languages after making an
appointment at 0854 370 470.