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APA Condemns Unethical Sharing of Therapist Records in Immigration Cases

  • February 18, 2020

Washington, D.C. — Recent news reports have brought to light that the therapy records of children detained by immigration officials have been used against them by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in deportation cases. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) condemns the unethical usage of children’s confidential therapy records in a courtroom setting and calls on the government to immediately end this harmful practice.

“Confidentiality between a clinician and a patient is a sacred trust and is essential to successful mental health treatment, said APA President Bruce Schwartz, M.D. “Violating an agreement of trust with a child will cause further damage when they are at their most vulnerable. The government is crossing an ethical line when it is using children’s therapy notes in deportation hearings. We are further concerned that this violation will prevent others from seeking treatment for fear their disclosures will be used against them. We call upon ICE to end this immediately.”

The APA has spoken out frequently against the ongoing separation of children from their families seeking asylum at the border and has called for thorough, confidential treatment of these children, many of whom have been the victims of trauma and abuse.

“Our organization and our members are willing to work with the Administration to ensure that these children receive appropriate mental health care,” said APA CEO and Medical Director Saul Levin, M.D., M.P.A. “Government policies should respect professional ethics and the confidentiality of therapy records. Let’s end this practice and provide the children the humane care they deserve.”

American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association, founded in 1844, is the oldest medical association in the country. The APA is also the largest psychiatric association in the world with more than 38,500 physician members specializing in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses. APA’s vision is to ensure access to quality psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. For more information please visit


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