Confidentiality must be viewed in a cultural context: “Counselors maintain awareness and sensitivity regarding cultural meanings of confidentiality and privacy. Counselors respect differing views toward disclosure of information. Counselors hold ongoing discussions with clients as to how, when, and with whom information is to be shared” (ACA, 2014, B.1.a). In Multicultural and Social Justice Competence Principles for Group Workers, the ASGW (2012) addresses broad areas of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and spirituality. In Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies, the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD, 2015) highlights taking action to promote social justice and emphasizes teaching clients how to advocate for themselves.
· Some cultures consider therapy to be shameful and only for mentally ill people. To minimize any risks of breaking confidentiality, avoid leaving phone messages or sending mail to members’ home addresses if they live with family members.
· Some group members may not have legal status or residency and may be guarded about providing personal information.
· Members who are seeking asylum or have refugee status may have significant trust issues and may give false personal information to protect themselves and their families.
· Some cultures promote sharing of all personal information with their families, and members could feel pressured to share details with their family members.
· Language barriers or reading difficulties may result in a member not fully understanding the importance of confidentiality and the consequences of breaches. Leaders should be sure that all members have fully comprehended this and other aspects of informed consent.