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Deeply distressed - counselling file released to my partner.

  • 26-06-2023 5:02pm
    Registered Users Posts: 8

    I have been going through a very difficult time over the last several months due to some unexpected life events affecting my family. I started counselling a few months ago. I was motivated to get well again but the counsellor was just reinforcing how difficult my circumstances are. He wasn't helping me to develop coping strategies which is what I felt I needed most to move on with my life. I reached a point where I was feeling extremely low.

    My partner wanted to know how best to support me so I gave written consent for my counsellor to discuss my case with them. I had no difficulty with the counsellor discussing things with my partner. However, my counsellor released my complete file to my partner. The file contained lots of very personal information - counselling notes, test scores etc. I feel completely violated. The counsellor says "tough luck", I gave consent. I feel there is a big difference between discussing someone's care and releasing files containing very sensitive information. Am I over reacting? I need some advice, please.


  • Moderators, Recreation & Hobbies Moderators Posts: 2,581 Mod ✭✭✭✭Mystery Egg

    This is quite worrying. I would not continue with this counsellor as they are absolutely not safe or wise, and they were failing to help you anyway. If you Google them you should be able to find out who their accrediting body is, and make a complaint.

  • Registered Users Posts: 352 ✭✭NiceFella

    I've no expertise in the area but that sounds very reckless by the counselor. Did they discuss anything after divulging the material with your partner or did they just release the material and said nothing?

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Pretty Honest

    Thanks Mystery Egg. I have ended the sessions. I feel traumatised and completely violated. It has made me wary of going to another counsellor. I had no problem with them discussing things with my partner but it's very distressing that all my records were handed over.

  • Administrators Posts: 13,851 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    It would depend on the wording of your written consent. Was it a form you signed? Or did you word a document and put it on your file. Did your partner request your notes? Or did the counsellor just hand them all over without expressly being asked.

    I would have assumed discussing your care would have involved you both being present and you giving permission for your case to he discussed with your partner present.

    There seems to have been a miscommunication here, with you both thinking the other is wrong. Either way, the counsellor doesn't seem to be a good fit for you so I would just move on now and find someone else.

    Your GP might be a good place for a recommendation. What works for 1 person will not be suitable for another. Don't give up.

  • Registered Users Posts: 276 ✭✭the 12 th man

    The Councillor is going to claim a "Tacit Agreement" was made to release information to a 3rd party by the 2 of you and releasing the files was helping the 3rd party understand what they are dealing with.

    They should have double checked with you all the same that it was ok to release your paperwork.

    There must be a Solicitor or 2 here that can throw a bit of light on it.

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  • Administrators Posts: 13,851 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Big Bag of Chips

    Legal advice is not allowed for very good reason - We have no way of verifying the identity or occupation of anyone.

  • Registered Users Posts: 8 Pretty Honest

    I prepared my own letter giving the counsellor permission to discuss my case with my partner. I never dreamed they would release all my notes.

  • Registered Users Posts: 7,722 ✭✭✭YellowLead

    Sorry to hear this happened to you.

    However it’s hard to know if your counsellor did anything wrong or not without knowing the contents of your letter. It’s common for notes to be shared with consent so perhaps they felt consent was given.

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,991 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith

    Are they a member of the Irish Association of Counselling and Psychotherapists? They have a complaints procedure if so.

  • Registered Users Posts: 6,819 ✭✭✭sporina

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  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Were there limits written as to what could be discussed? If not, I don't see what the problem is really.

  • Registered Users Posts: 465 ✭✭HazeDoll

    LahinchDog, maybe you're trying to say that you don't fully understand the nature of the OP's difficulty. Your response comes across a little callous though, as if you're saying because you don't see the problem there isn't a problem.

    OP, I can't imagine how betrayed you must feel. You trusted a professional and he let you down. In your shoes I would be furious. I would definitely explore official routes of complaint. At the very least I would write a clear statement for the counsellor explaining why you regard his actions as a betrayal of trust, counterproductive and damaging to your progress. Perhaps he'll think a little harder before doing the same thing to another person.

    Do you think your partner might be more trustworthy and understanding than your counsellor? Perhaps there's a positive in the situation. Maybe your partner will have the insight to understand your struggles.

  • Registered Users Posts: 172 ✭✭pat_sconce

    I would doubt very much that a counsellor would ever utter the words "tough luck".

    You are an adult, and unless you are committed, it is up to you to give permission for your details to be discussed and divulged to someone else.

    It seems you did give that permission and whilst many will not release all details, many will, especially when there is so much litigation about.

    Damned if they do, damned if they don't.

    There's no "correct" procedure, but maybe having your inner thoughts shared to someone close to you will assist.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,390 ✭✭✭Airyfairy12

    No youre not over reacting at all, that counsellor is dangerous and had no right to overstep boundaries & they should have never agreed to share any information with your partner without you being apart of that conversation. I strongly suggest you report the counsellor to IACP & CORU.

  • Posts: 0 [Deleted User]

    Warning applied for scaremongering an already deeply distressed poster with off topic advice

    Post removed


    Post edited by Hannibal_Smith on

  • Registered Users Posts: 5,242 ✭✭✭Oscar_Madison

    Governing body OP- whatever the governing body is for the qualification the counsellor holds, that’s where you start.

    Preserve the wording of the agreement also that you agreed with the counsellor- I assume it’s written not just verbal?

    I can’t think of a reason why a counsellor would share all of your information even with your consent, simply because information such as assessment scores etc on personality instruments would only be meaningful to a trained person (I assume your partner isn’t similarly qualified?)

    If a “mistake” or “bad practice” vs misunderstanding (which could be argued was a mistake, ) was committed here, let’s see what the governing body says. I’m the meantime I hope you find another trusted counsellor or whatever help or support you require.