Confidentiality in Peer Relationships
People providing a service should not share information about individuals they work with unless specifically authorised to do so. Information within confidentiality is passed on a need to know basis.
Peer supporters need to be able to maintain professional boundaries, and an awareness of confidentiality is an important part of this. However the nature of the peer relationship means that some common interpretations of confidentiality in support relationships may not be appropriate at all times:
- While peer supporters are encouraged to form mutually empowering relationships, they are nevertheless obliged to break confidentiality in certain circumstances, due to their shared experiences.
- Organisations that employ peer supporters have a responsibility to clarify how to manage confidentiality, and there should be opportunities to discuss it in supervision.
- A peer supporter could be a member of a team working with the same person. In these circumstances information is likely to be shared and this could impact on their ability to develop connections and relationships.
- Peer supporters can be vulnerable because they share their experiences within the context of their role in helping others. They need to be in control of this and should not be forced to share anything they are uncomfortable with.
An organisation that employs a peer supporter who was previously supported by service needs to pay particular attention to confidentiality. It is clear that issues that relate to confidentiality are not necessarily clear cut, but it’s generally a good idea to use the same approach as that outlined for considering boundaries. If you want to find out if someone wants something to be kept confidential, then simply ask.