One of the problems of human service work is that you cannot control where your clients will appear (unless they are incarcerated). There are times when you will see your clients or those of your agency in public. How should you handle these situations and why is it important to maintain confidentiality? Think about strategies that you can use to help your clients to protect their own privacy.
Scenario: Grocery Store Dilemma
You work in a local mental health agency as the welfare-to-work coordinator. Often, on the way home from work, you stop at the grocery store. One afternoon, you stop and begin shopping. As you turn your cart into a new aisle, a client of your agency sees you and says, “I’m glad to see you here. I’ve wanted to talk with you about something personal that’s bothering me.” The client starts to talk with you about confidential information. You stop in your tracks to think about how to handle this situation.
- What action(s) should you take to protect your client’s privacy?
- Why is it important to follow confidentiality guidelines in this situation?
- How will you prevent a situation like this from occurring again?
- What strategies can you teach your clients to protect their own privacy in these situations?