Stimulus Bill Preserves Therapeutic Relationship Privacy

The recent passage of the Obama administration’s stimulus bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, holds a significant amount of promise in the quest to invigorate the national economy and to help people more comfortably wade through the fallout of the financial crisis. We can thank the work of a few legislators as well as the historical importance of the issue and those who have fought for their rights in the past.

The bill is also set to invigorate a topic close to the heart of meaningful psychotherapy: privacy. A small yet important victory for mental health care providers as well as the people they serve, this measure has been met with enthusiastic cheer by the American Psychoanalytic Association. It has also received praise from professionals associated with the New England Journal of Medicine.

The bill has elements that feed into an initiative to move medical records forward in tandem with modern technology. It specifies that patients shall have the right to obtain their own medical records via an electronic copy sent directly to them. This helps to ensure the privacy of specifically protected information, such as psychiatric history.

The therapist-patient privilege has enjoyed a long and underscored tradition in the United States. Even so, the physical nature of medical records has left sensitive information open to interception. This has remained despite our modern capabilities to keep such information more confidential.

This is a recognition and reconfirmation of the rights of clients and mental health professionals to engage in therapy and healing in a safe and effective context. It is a positive reinforcement of the importance of this issue. The measures taken to help ensure that confidentiality and privacy are allowed to evolve with modern technology reflect an understanding, competence, and compassion on the part of involved legislators that clearly brings hope to the psychiatric professions for the years to come.

© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Andrew


    February 23rd, 2009 at 1:21 AM

    For a layman like me I take this with mixed feelings. I happen to work with a detective agency in a clerical position and I can tell you a lot of disturbed people turn to psychiatry and crime. Its not a crime to be mentally ill but making patient records available to the law is a necessity to protect one and all sometimes.

  • Shannon


    February 23rd, 2009 at 2:52 AM

    And of course all i keep hearing about on crazy talk radio stations from right wing zealots is that this is just making our medical system more socialized. I am sorry I try not to be too political but I have to listen to these nuts every once in a while to see what they are up to and some of them were just talking about this the other day and what a bad idea it was. Why? They think that it just puts more power into the hands of the govt and of course they do not like that. I like the fact that I feel that this gives me more control over my own health care- I can not only check for mistakes but have the choice to ensure my own privacy. I just think that right now there are going to be those who oppose anything that the Obama team tries to push through simply becasue it is no longer their guy in office anymore.

  • Jason


    February 24th, 2009 at 9:06 AM

    Just one more victory that the administration continues to push through. Seems like more is getting done in this 1st month than the last eight years with Bush.

  • Johnson


    February 25th, 2009 at 7:51 PM

    I agree with Jason. Obama is atleast making serious efforts to ease the situation in America today. The Bush administration needs a commendation for driving the world to a point of no return. Well Bush did say, “Someone’s got to pay”. We all definitely are paying the price literally.

  • Lisa


    February 26th, 2009 at 5:27 AM

    Happy to see that finally people are taking notice of just how bad things were and that many of us are hopping on board to change things for the better. Hope that kind of attitude lasts!

  • Pauline


    February 28th, 2009 at 4:14 AM

    But is it doing anything to help people who need mental health care but cannot afford it?

  • Gary


    February 28th, 2009 at 5:59 AM

    I am glad some things are working well. It will take a lot of effort to see this country back on its feet. There is a start in a lot of things that is promising.

  • Carmen


    March 9th, 2009 at 1:18 AM

    Things were bad and a lot of people blame it on Bush… I am happy just to see Obama trying to clean this mess up, whether or not we believe it’s the right way or not… at least our new president is trying to relieve a lot of mess that Busch left behind.

  • melinda


    March 9th, 2009 at 1:20 AM

    I agree as well with Jason… Obama is jumping right in there to help all of us in this time of need. He did not waste any time.

  • Jennifer


    March 19th, 2009 at 7:21 AM

    I agree our president Obama is headed in the right direction.. Keeping my fingers cross that this is all going to be for the good and work out for us.

  • Victoria


    April 10th, 2009 at 4:17 AM

    I just started to see the increase in my check due to the stimulus package. My concern is, the Federal Chart had been amended to take out less for Federal.. It’s based on a married couple getting $800.00 for the year, I believe and $400.00 for single. How will this affect us at the end of the year? It seems to me that we will be PAYING in to Federal instead of receiving. If you pay less in Federal taxes at the end of the year it’s going to come back and bite us.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.