What to do if the psychotherapist and client accidentally meet outside the clinic
This is something that rarely happens but it is important to acknowledge. My first thoughts on the subject are that, in a social setting, if contact is completely unavoidable, I would speak to the former client and point out that noone will know about the therapy unless he has told someone, and that he will have complete anonymity. But, is it as easy as this? Perhaps a problem might occur if a meeting with a client happens by chance. I will illustrate this point by discussing a potential scenario.
If I were invited to a party and were introduced to a client, or former client, what would I do in that situation? If I act out of character and look uneasy it is possible that confidentiality will be broken straight away. I must also not just walk away because the client might feel that he has been rejected. I think that it is very important to acknowledge the client and not mention anything about the psychotherapy. If the client does not bring it up in conversation, one must not mention the fact that he is your client. It may be possible for you both to have a private conversation about the matter at some point during the party; however, if not, the client must take the lead in discussing therapy or not.
Finally, if I work with a client in psychotherapy for training purposes, I will not be his supervisor. It is important that these boundaries are adhered to and acknowledged. In conclusion, in all cases, confidentiality must be maintained.
David Kraft (PhD), UKCP Registered Psychotherapist