He’s well-known in the community and a well-respected business owner. He’s sitting across the room, nervously twisting his wedding ring. It’s a subconscious gesture that’s common among men and women in his situation. He’s just admitted that he’s compromised fidelity and his marriage may be at an end. Oh, the relationship has been rocky for a while, but his admission provides a clear “cause.”

The prospect of a failed marriage isn’t what has him terrified right now. It’s the thought that his colleagues, neighbors, and friends from church might discover that he’s sitting in this room. If they knew he was talking to a counselor, he’d be embarrassed. Humiliated, even.

He doesn’t need to be worried about that. Privacy is a cornerstone of our profession, a central tenet of our professional ethics, and a point of law. Fact is, we see business owners, their kids, and their spouses. We see school administrators, church leaders, and community leaders. And nobody else knows they’re here.

For counseling to succeed, there must be strong trust between a counselor and a client. The conversations you have with your counselor are private and privileged (the only exceptions are that the law requires us to report any suspected abuse or neglect of children or other adults to local and state authorities, and to take action if we believe you are at risk of harming yourself or another person).

Our counselors live in the community, attend church, shop in supermarkets, and eat in restaurants — and yes, we may see our clients in those places. We tell our clients that if we run into them in public, we won’t initiate a conversation, so there won’t be any of those uncomfortable “how do you know?” moments. If they start a conversation, we won’t reference the work we do in the office. Nobody else needs to know.

Most people have no idea how many people seek help with life’s challenges. Psychology Today’s 2004 survey revealed that more than one in four adults (59 million people nationwide) had received counseling or some other form of mental health treatment in the two years prior. Roughly half of them were in some type of counseling — that’s 30 million people! Why do so many people go to therapy? For the same reason our business owner is sitting in our office today: they want help.

If you’re struggling or feel stuck, contact us today.


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