How safe is my story?
Things you should know before reaching out to a Counsellor / Therapist
I think I need help.
These thoughts are driving me crazy.
If I don’t reach out to someone for help, now, I don’t think I will survive.
Maybe, I can speak to a therapist and vent it all out. At the least someone will listen to my misery.
But…. Can I trust someone I don’t know? Will they hold my story or tell it to others? What if someone comes to know? I will be shamed.
It is a risk.
In India, mental health issues are still extremely stigmatized. Many times, patients realize the need to seek help, but refrain from doing so. There is a shame associated with going to a counsellor or therapist for the fear of being tagged or branded.
With so many deterrents involved, trusting a therapist or counsellor becomes a matter of grave concern for a patient. Research shows that the relationship between a therapist and the client plays a big role in the success of therapy.
Let us explore things that an individual should know before seeking a mental health practitioner. Also, the rights of an individual as a patient.
Assurance of safety:
The Mental Health Care Act 2017 safeguards the rights of the patients in its Section 23, the right to confidentiality, Section 24, declaring Restriction on release of information in respect of mental illness, Section 25, right to access medical records, Section 26, rights to personal contacts and communication, Section 27, Right to legal aid, Section 28, Right to make complaints about the deficiencies in provision of services.
According to the provisions, a therapist divulges private details, only and if:
There is a potential risk/threat to the life of the patient of those around them, then relevant people may be informed
There is a legal notice to present the case in court proceedings or law enforcers, it cannot be a public statement
Meara et al.  list six basic principles of ethical practice: autonomy (self-determination); nonmaleficence (avoiding doing harm); beneficence (doing good and promoting client well-being); justice (fair and just treatment); fidelity (making realistic commitments and keeping promises); and veracity (truthfulness and honesty).
Therapy is a process that works best in partnership. Your therapist and you have to be a good fit. If need be, be open to seeing more therapists until you feel completely understood and comfortable.
Arati Kedia, an intermodal mental health practitioner, based in Mumbai says-
“Trust is a two-way street. Most of which is built on non-verbal communication. The energy exchange between the practitioner and her client is osmotic. Confidentiality and trust are two sides of a coin. Five factors that govern this relationship are listed below. Creating a safe space for the client to ensure a healthy working relationship entails
1. The practitioner carries neutral energy.
2. A working alliance is set up in the beginning itself.
3. Genuineness, non-judgment and confidence are important attributes of a practitioner.
5. High Emotional Quotient”
A good therapist or mental health practitioner will keep your story and sessions extremely confidential unless information shared is a threat to the person(s) involved or when the matter involves any kind of legality, that makes the bearer of the information vulnerable under the law of the land. Rest assured, the most important aspect of the therapist and patient relationship is to have mutual trust and confidentiality.