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Alexia Esq.
Alexia Esq., Managing Attorney
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I had contacted via text a therapist in my area needing a referral

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I had contacted via text a therapist in my area needing a referral for another therapist. I knew the particular therapist would not be able to help me herself because it would be a conflict of interest considering she helps my ex partner. The therapist never returned my text or contacted me. However, my ex partner went for a session and I received a text from her wanting to know why I had contacted the therapist. The therapist told her that I contacted her during their session. Is there anything I can do?

Hi, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I thank you for your inquiry. I have been practicing law for 19+ years and look forward to assisting you.

With regard to your post:

I had contacted via text a therapist in my area needing a referral for another therapist. OK. I believe you are saying that you were not a patient of this therapist.

 

I knew the particular therapist would not be able to help me herself because it would be a conflict of interest considering she helps my ex partner. OK. Not convinced that is necessarily true, but it could be under some circumstances.

 

The therapist never returned my text or contacted me. OK. Not a legal problem with that.

 

However, my ex partner went for a session and I received a text from her wanting to know why I had contacted the therapist. OK.

The therapist told her that I contacted her during their session. Is there anything I can do? Not that I am seeing thus far. Here is the OK law on confidentiality:

 

 

§43A-1-109. Confidential and privileged information - Disclosure.

A. 1. All mental health and drug or alcohol abuse treatment information, whether or not recorded, and all communications between a physician or psychotherapist and a consumer are both privileged and confidential. In addition, the identity of all persons who have received or are receiving mental health or drug or alcohol abuse treatment services shall be considered confidential and privileged.

..."

However, the problem I am seeing is that it is not clear that you would be "a consumer" of the services "8. "Consumer" means a person under care or treatment in a facility pursuant to the Mental Health Law, or in an outpatient status;" - you were trying to be a consumer in the future, but were not yet a consumer. The statute does not specify that you must be a consumer of THAT therapist, it would appear, only that you are a consumer. Because of that, if you were getting or had received care, and texted it to the therapist, and she then told the details to your ex, one may be able to argue that even if she isn't the therapist, since you, as a consumer, had provided this information to her, she is bound to keep it confidential - certainly not to share it with someone not entitled to that information.

That all being said, even if a Judge were to interpet that statute to NOT have you considered a consumer unless a consumer of that therapists' services - the therapist is extremely (my opinion) unprofessional to even divulge this information as she did. If the public learned of her loose lips when someone just calls her for information on getting treatment, and she thinks it is OK to share their name to the public, or her clients - she may quickly find her base of possible clients drying up - I'd not use her. It may not be a crime (and again, you can argue that it is, as discussed above), but one could also look to "invasion of privacy" concepts. You'd want to delve into whether there is case law that is on point with these facts - and see if any cases have ruled this to be an invasion under common law or statutory law.

Is a request for referral by a non-patient, confidential? Again, I'd argue that it is. By sharing that information, it is telling others that you communicated that you believe you need mental health treatment, that you have a mental illness or condition. You told her that - and then she told another - and even worse, someone who, perhaps, was the last person you'd want to know.

As you can see, the statute is somewhat vague on a person seeking to be a consumer, and of a different therapist, not the violating therapist - but it would certainly seem to be the legislative intent that your searchings for a therapist should also be confidential. There is where a Judge, should this ever get that far, needs to determine the statutory intent and whether the language of the statute supports coverage in this instance.

I hope this helps! My goal is to provide you with excellent and accurate service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back, I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate me "excellent" when you are done. I look forward to assisting you in the future, should you have legal questions.

Sincerely,

Alexia Esq.

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I would add, also, that if you wanted to, you could certainly report her to her licensing board - it doesn't cost anything, and they could make a decision at least as far as their rules and policies go.