A Scoping Review of the Practice Recommendations of Secrets in Couple’s Therapy

Kristen P. Mark, Donna L. Schuman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In couple’s therapy, secrets between the couple often arise, and couple’s therapists must navigate a balance between their ethical and therapeutic responsibilities. This paper provides a scoping review of the literature on how couple’s therapists handle secrets in the context of couple’s therapy and discusses the ethical and clinical considerations in the context of the ethical standards of the AAMFT. Online databases were used to systematically identify peer-reviewed academic, English-language articles that focused on recommendations for therapists in handling secrets between couples in therapy. Seven articles met the search criteria. The empirical evidence supports a model of professional judgment, whereby the therapist can use their discretion about whether or not to disclose a secret on behalf of a client. To operate within the confines of ethical practice, we recommend therapists pair professional judgment with a clearly informed and signed written client policy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-71
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Family Psychotherapy
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 2 2020


  • ethical couple’s therapy
  • scoping review
  • Secrets in couple’s therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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