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Psychiatry & Psychology--General/Can my conselor breach confidentiality in this way?


Well I had some things happen with my therapist and am wondering if she was allowed to breach confidentiality the way she did.

Well first off, I am 19, so am no longer a minor. I live in New York, so I am not sure if things are different there or something.

But anyways. So a bit back I was talking to my therapist and told her that I had bought some sleeping medication as a 'back up plan' I didn't tell her that I was going to kill myself on 'this day and this time' with them, just that I wanted to have a back up plan, something to keep in my back pocket.

She made me get rid of them when I got home, and had me call her once I got rid of them.

Then the next week I saw the person that prescribes me medication (she works as a team with my therapist) she is a nurse practitioner. She of coarse asked me if I had any thoughts of hurting myself/committing suicide. Me trying to be as honest as possible told her yes and she asked how I would do it. I hesitated, but told her the ways that i had thought of doing it. She told me she wanted to call my mom to ensure I was safe at home, but I was really scared so she let it slide this time.

But then when I saw my therapist the next day she told me she had chatted with my nurse practitioner and they had decided that my mom needed to be contacted and told that I have suicidal thoughts. She said that it was that or being placed in the psych ED.

She ended up calling my mom because that was her preferred course of action. She said she could breach confidentiality in this case.

Now was she allowed to force me to let her call my mom?  Is that her right? She said too many red flags were going up. But is it legal for her to have done this.

I'm just wondering. And now because of what happened I am now afraid to tell her everything that's going on with me anymore. Is there a way that you can ease my fear as well as answering my question about the legality of it all?


While I am a psychologist with over 30 years in private practice in New York I am not an expert on the laws specific to, breaching confidentiality,  governing psychological practice.  I attempted to find a good scholarly reference for you and list it below.

However, it is standard practice that a psychologist should be able to identify the difference between a person discussing or considering suicide, called "suicidal ideation,"  and the "clear and imminent danger" standard that applies only when the  therapist feels there is an immediate danger that a patient may attempt to kill him or herself, which is called "suicidal intent," meaning the patient has determined and planned to attempt suicide.  Only in the latter case is it ethically mandated that the psychologist breach confidentiality to prevent the patient from injuring herself.


Dr. Elmore

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Andrew M. Elmore, Ph.D.


I can answer questions about: Stress. Headaches. Stress-related Disorders. Anxiety/Panic Disorder. Depression. Psychopathology. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Personal Problem Solving. Life in General. Relationships: Love, Friendship, Business Partner, Coworker, Family,Child/Parent. What makes us tick. The use of psycho-pharmacological agents in combination with psychological treatment. How to deal with evil people in your life. How to improve your outlook under duress. How to control stress. How to control mood. How to control headaches. I cannot answer: Questions about Eating Disorders. Questions about computers.


30 years in private practice as a psychologist in Manhattan. Dealing with people from almost every conceivable ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds, and as many character types as exist in this country. Dealing with patients from 8 years old to 90 years old. Pioneer in biofeedback and the treatment of stress-related disorders. Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine since 1982. Treatment of stress-related, anxiety and depressive disorders with biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy. Developed personal problem solving, an extremely precise form of psychotherapy. Relationship therapy for couples, families, parent/child issues, business partners, coworkers, employers, and dealing with psychopathic individuals in your life.

American Psychological Association. Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback. Biofeedback Certification Institute of America. New York Academy of Sciences.

The journal, Psychophysiology. The book, Expanding Dimensions of Consciousness. The journal, Headache. The journal, Biofeedback and Self-Regulation. The journal Psychiatry Digest. The book, The TMJ Book. The book, Dental Phobia. The network, CNN. Parade Magazine. The newspaper, Newsday. The Manhattan TV station, WCBS. The national news program, The CBS Evening News. The newspaper, The New York Post. The national TV program, The Phil Donohue Show. The magazine, The New Yorker. The magazine, Glamor. The magazine, Redbook. The magazine, Health. The magazine, Bottom Line Personal. Web MD. The website, Healthology. The magazine, Newsweek.

Ph.D. SUNY at Stony Brook, 1979. B.A., magna cum laude with Honors in Psychology, Illinois Wesleyan University, 1974.

Awards and Honors
Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare, First, Second and Third Editions, 1997-2000. Appointed to the Training Faculty of the Biofeedback Certification Institute of America (BCIA), 1993. Senior Fellow BCIA. New York Academy of Sciences, 1987. Who’s Who in the East, 1983-present. Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology, First Edition. Citation Paper Author. Eleventh Annual Meeting of the Biofeedback Society of America, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1980. Biofeedback Society of America Scholar, 1979. Co-author, USVA Grant, “Variables Affecting the Experience of Pain in Migraine,” USVA Medical Center, Northport, New York, 1977-1979. Biomedical Research Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York, 1978. NIMH Predoctoral Fellowship, 1976. BA, Magna cum laude, with Honors in Psychology, 1974. Danforth Fellowship Nominee, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, Illinois, 1973.

Past/Present Clients
Most of my clients are my private patients. However I have provided many seminars, lectures and workshops for: Columbia University. The Mount Sinai School of Medicine. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Museum of Natural History. The UJA Federation. The university, CW Post. The College of New Rochelle. Equinox Fitness. Travelers Insurance. AutoOne Insurance. Chubb Insurance. Metropolitan Life. Allstate Insurance. State Farm Insurance. Encompass Insurance. The public relations firm, Porter Novelli. The investment firm, Capital Re:. The Estee Lauder corporation. The law firm of Irwin Abrams. The National Insurance Crime Bureau. GEICO Insruance. Beth Israel Hospital.

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