Does My Therapist Have to Report Past Abuse?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m having panic attacks about once or twice a week I think is due to the fact that i was sexually abused in the past. I want to get counseling now. My question is, does a therapist have to report past abuse. The person who did it to me is family, I love him and don’t want anything to happen to him because he is not the same person as he was before. How do I get counseling and not tear up our family? Thank you

A: You are asking a complicated question. The laws vary from state to state and I’m not conversant in the laws in yours. However, at 18, you are now considered an adult. Generally that means that you are able to make your own decisions about what can be reported or shared. I applaud you for wanting to get therapy. I suggest you spend part of the first session talking about the limits of confidentiality, if any, in your part of the country. You can then make an informed decision about how much you want to tell your therapist.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Mar 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). Does My Therapist Have to Report Past Abuse?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 26, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/03/25/does-my-therapist-have-to-report-past-abuse/