School Counselors & Confidentiality

  • The meaning and limits of confidentiality are defined in developmentally appropriate terms to students. School Counselors recognize that while the primary obligation for confidentiality is to the student, there must be an understanding that balances this confidentiality with the legal and inherent rights of parents/guardians to be the guiding voice in their children’s lives. 

    While it is important that a student’s conversations with a school counselor be kept confidential, confidentiality does have its limitations. According to the American School Counselor Association’s Ethical Standards for School Counselors, counselors must “keep information confidential unless legal requirements demand that confidential information be revealed or a breach is required to prevent serious and foreseeable harm to the student or others” (American School Counselor Association [ASCA], 2010).
    The most frequent type of breaches include a student verbalizing the following:
    1. Verbal, Physical or Sexual Abuse
    2. Neglect
    3. A desire to harm him/herself
    4. A desire to harm someone else
    5. An unreported sexual assault
    American School Counselor Association. Ethical Standards for School Counselors. American School Counselor Association, n.d. Web. 19 March 2013.

    American School Counselor Association (2005). The ASCA National Model: A Framework for school counseling programs, Second Edition. Alexandria, VA: Author.