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Should a patient keep in confidence the remarks that a practitioner has made?

From the June 2013 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Q: I do understand the importance of a practitioner keeping things confidential, but in the November 2012 Journal you wrote: “I like to think that this works both ways and that the patient will also keep in confidence the remarks that the practitioner has made.” Over the years I have found it so helpful to hear (and read) testimonies where the testifier shares ideas from a practitioner they were working with.

The Church Manual states that the practitioner will “hold in sacred confidence all private communications made to them by their patients … ” (p. 47) but makes no mention of the patient keeping the communication in confidence. Can you shed light?

A: You make a good point that the By-Law does not require the patient to keep the practitioner’s remarks confidential. I brought this up in the article because I believe that sometimes practitioners appreciate it when what they discuss with a patient is kept private. The ideas exchanged in this holy work together can get twisted up a bit as they get passed along—and come out differently from what the practitioner expressed in a very specific situation, with a specific patient. So each one of us must be guided individually—when it’s appropriate to share and when it is not. I know I’ve certainly passed along meaningful insights from other practitioners in testimonies when appropriate. But sometimes that Christly activity between patient and practitioner can’t be accurately expressed in words.

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