Ethical and Legal Concerns for MFTs in the Context of Clergy-Collaborative Care: Is What I Share Really Confidential?


marriage and family therapy, MFT, therapy, law, clergy, religion


Research identifies collaborative care as an effective approach to increasing the effectiveness of clients’ change work, yet collaborative care can undermine therapy if collaboration somehow alters the context of therapy. Our point of focus here is MFT-clergy collaboration, which places legal protection of confidentiality at risk through disclosures to clergy, who operate in a distinct, Constitutionally protected niche where the weight of the law is prevented from being used to mandate and help ensure confidentiality. With uneven legal and professional realities, we recommend that therapists utilize distinct protocols when engaging in therapist-clergy collaborative care in order to mitigate risk for their clients and themselves.

Original Publication Citation

Butler, M. H., & Zamora, J. P. (2013). Ethical and legal concerns for MFTs in the context of clergy-collaborative care: Is what I share really confidential? American Journal of Family Therapy, 41(2), 85-109.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL


The American Journal of Family Therapy




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor