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I am a life coach who works with partners of addicts. I also…

Customer Question
I am a life...

I am a life coach who works with partners of addicts. I also have a client who is an addict. I am so grateful to have your professional opinions around when, if ever, it is OK to break confidentiality if you find yourself in a situation where you are aware someone is in danger. In my coaching agreement form (which my clients must sign before coaching starts), I say I will maintain confidentiality unless I am told that children are being harmed. The form states that they need to know this upfront. I remind them of this again in our first coaching session. Anything they tell me will be kept confidential, except violation of children.There is another situation which I have not previously encountered and for which I would so appreciate your guidance. What if you are working with a client whose partner threatens to kill your client and to self harm and then sends your client text messages with pictures of knives, broken dishes on the floor, and deep scratches on her arms? There are also hateful messages where the partner tells your client he deserves to die and the partner says "she is out of here". There is also a small child involved. The mother has primary custody of the child but the father overnights the child several nights each week . Your client forwards some of the texts to you so you know this is not a BS story but what is actually happening.You advise your client to call 911. Police investigate and tell your client not to return home. You advise your client to also call the suicide hotline. The partner refuses to see a therapist but does have a coach she works with. Your client has a therapist he sees regularly, a group he attends every week, a sponsor and a coach he works with every week and is working his circle plan. If one morning, there are especially threatening texts about self-harm and murder, do you have a responsibility to reach out to the partner's coach to try to get some assistance for the partner who is clearly breaking down and at a point where she is a danger to herself and to her family, even though you do not have signed permission to consult? Can you ethically "break" confidentiality when a partner's life, a recovering addict's life and possibly the life of a young child are being threatened? One more piece of information, the recovering addict would like you to talk with his partner's coach.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you talked to an Oklahoma lawyer about this?

I don't live in Oklahoma. I live in Indiana. I do not have a lawyer here.

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far?

I advised my client to call 911 after he received threatening texts and pictures of knives. He did call 911. Police went to the house to investigate and told him not to return home. I have advised him to call the suicide hotline to let them know his wife is suicidal (and homicidal but that's not their issue, the suicide threats are). I have advised him that he needs to remove the child from the home and retain custody. He is worried about his wife. He is also worried about how long he can keep the daughter without a court order.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

My client would like to talk with his partner's coach to see if the coach can help his wife. The wife just wants to be left alone. My question is my duty to inform when someone is threatening harm, especially when there is a child involved. Can I connect my client with his wife's coach so he can inform her of what is happening with his wife if I do not have a signed consent form from his wife?

Submitted: 25 days ago.Category: Legal
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Answered in 6 minutes by:
3/27/2018
Lawyer: Law Educator, Esq., Attorney replied 25 days ago
Law Educator, Esq.
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 123,242
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
Verified

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

In order to safely violate the confidentiality, you have to know harm is going to come to someone else in order to notify the police. So, if the person is making direct threats of killing someone to you and you know they will carry through, then you can break the confidentiality.

However, the term knowing they will kill someone is different than just thinking they may do so and as such you have a wide discretion in whether or not you report.

Please do not forget to leave positive feedback by clicking on the 5 stars at the top of your page, as the experts are not employees of the site and get no credit for spending time with customers unless they leave positive feedback. Thank you.

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Satisfied Customers: 123,242
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