Therapist wrote a letter about me without my consent or knowledge?

by Natalie

When my husband's extramarital affairs came to light, he became violent. We went to see a therapist who saw us as a couple and individually. She personally witnessed his behavior in her office. The recommendations she gave my husband was for psychiatric help, medication and sex addiction therapy.

She recommended that I call the police if the behavior continued at home, otherwise it would not stop. I eventually followed her advice and my husband was arrested twice.

Having the arrests on his record was becoming an issue (he is a nurse) and so having it expunged became a priority of his. He turned to the therapist who in turn wrote a letter on his behalf in which she spoke very negatively about me. I was never contacted, informed or more importantly, asked for authorization for her to share any information on me.

The letter successfully helped my husband's situation and also gave him more material to use in his abuse towards me.

The reason I know about the letter is because my husband told me, first in a moment of peace, when he told me that our therapist had done and said many things that she shouldn't have, and then, more frequently, when he told me that "even she thought I was crazy and was the one with issues."

I only recently saw the actual letter, written and signed on her own stationary.

First, I feel obligated to report her. It was an extremely hostile and dangerous situation, which we later found out that she further put us both at risk by seeing us together when there was an abusive situation.

Second, we spent a lot of money seeing her and then a lot more (thousands of dollars) dealing with the aftermath of the situation that she may have contributed to, rather than helped.

I am left feeling completely betrayed, confused, vulnerable and angry over this. Is there anything I can do about this? Can I report the therapist for stating negative things about me personally in the letter, and writing the letter without my consent or knowledge? Is this malpractice? Any information and perspective you can give would be appreciated.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Therapist wrote a letter about me without my consent or knowledge?":

Natalie (CA):

According to California Health and Safety Code, Section 123105, your chart should consist of the dates of your sessions; your fees and payments; clinical information (if any) such as a diagnosis, treatment plan, records of psychological tests, and records gathered from other providers; and psychotherapy notes that describe and justify your treatment.

A privilege of confidentiality is expected. You have the privilege of determining what happens to your clinical records. Unless you signed a Release of Information (ROI) permitting the therapist to release your information, the therapist may have violated California law.

To have the basis of a defamation claim you would have to prove the statements made by the therapist on her letterhead were false, and that as a result of the falsity, you were damaged.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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