Next Day Arnold Calls
Arnold Polite, age 14, is brought into therapy by his parents to Frank Facilit, Psy.D., out of concern that he is becoming increasingly depressed and socially withdrawn. During the first session, Dr. Facilit goes over the informed consent (therapeutic contract) with Arnold and his parents and covers issues of confidentiality, fee and missed appointments. He explains to Arnold that because he is a minor, his parents have the right to know about his therapy process and that he can help Arnold to discuss issues that he finds hard to communicate with his parents, as needed. And he also encourages his parents to respect Arnold’s privacy as he is 14-years-old. After negotiating the boundaries of privacy, the parents trust Arnold to make his sessions as he can ride his bike to Dr. Facilit’s office. Dr. Facilit finds Arnold is learning to develop a sense of adolescent autonomy and at times struggles with it. Over several months, Dr. Facilit sees good progress in his work with Arnold. Then, one day, he fails to show up for a scheduled therapy session. Dr. Facilit gives a telephone call to Mr. and Mrs. Polite, who pay for the sessions, to check on Arnold’s absence. Next day Arnold calls Dr. Facilit and expresses concern that the Dr. should not have called his parents. He states that he is unsure if he can continue in therapy with the Dr. or not. If you were Dr. Facilit, what would you do now?
What is the Ethical Dilemma & how would you respond as a therapist?