A study of informal breaches of confidentiality among a sample of South African clinical, counselling, and educational psychologists, in the light of aspects of ethical education and of countertransference phenomena.
The informal breach of client confidentiality by psychologists was discussed in relation to various issues in professionalism and professional ethics, both in general and in the South African context. lnformal breaches of client confidentiality were identified as a common by under researched form of ethical malpractice, and nominated as the dependent variable in this study. Different emphases in ethical education were discussed in relation to various theories of moral thinking and moral action (particularly the 'levels' theory of moral thinking of R.M. Hare), and identified as an independent variable for the empirical portion of the study. A second independent variable, of countertransference responses by psychologists to clients, was also identified and discussed. A purpose-developed postal questionnaire was administered to a sample of South African clinical, counselling, and educational psychologists to assess the incidence of informal breaches of confidentiality in a South African sample, as well as the relationship between the variables. Although a high incidence of informal breaches of confidentiality was reported by the sample, and indirect support for Hare's levels theory of moral thinking found, the results did not demonstrate a significant relationship between the independent and dependent variables.