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In Orange County, CA, Be Careful What You Tell Your Therapist

Stephen Collins, the actor, told the truth to his therapist. He wanted help with a disease. He felt sick and needed guidance. So he told his therapist about touching young girls in a sexual manner thinking it was a very private and emotional moment. He hoped it would lead to greater understanding by him and help in his therapy.

Big surprise! Not everything you tell your psychologist or psychiatrist is private. In fact, the mental health professional was under an obligation to report such behavior to law enforcement. Instead of leading to help, opening up to your therapist can land you in jail. Just ask Stephen Collins after the police arrested him.

A therapist is required to report acts of child molestation to law enforcement unless it’s already been reported and he is willing to rely on that as satisfying his reporting obligation. You might think that this would have a chilling effect on individuals seeking treatment. You would be right on that score.

I’ve had clients who I want to get help for but that are afraid to speak to anyone for fear that their thoughts will be betrayed by their therapists. It’s a difficult problem for the attorney, who is not under any such reporting requirement, yet, who wants to get help for his client.

I wonder why any society would want to demand the therapist report the patient who seeks help? Such a policy just pushes the mentally troubled further into the shadows and increases the chances for more victimization.