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Confidentiality breaches regarding adolescent risk-taking behavior: A quantitative study of adolescents' perceptions and attitudes of confidentiality in psychotherapy

25 July 2003


Deciding whether to break confidentiality and report adolescent risk-taking behavior is a commonly encountered ethical dilemma for practicing mental health professionals. Although little is known about therapists' attitudes regarding reporting risk-taking behaviors, even less is known about adolescents' perceptions on confidentiality breaches. The present study surveyed 377 adolescents (resulting in 46 usable surveys) and identified several factors perceived by adolescents to be important for therapists' decision-making process. A general trend emerged that as intensity, frequency, and duration of risk-taking behaviors increase, adolescents perceive it to be more appropriate to break confidentiality.


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