Everybody who works with people need to take an oath of silence, even if it is only to themselves. As a therapist or coach you learn so much about the people you work with, private stuff, and for them to feel safe you need to make sure they understand that everything stays between the two of you. Everything! You also need to stay non-judgmental in your evaluation of their status and progress. I would like to stretch it and say that this also goes for friend-ship.
I never speak of my clients except very special cases that I use as examples when I am doing conferences or trainings and then I always ask permission and make sure nobody knows who the client is.
When I meet a client “in the street” I don’t mention how we know each-other, I just say hello and stick to non-committal small talk. If they want to bring up our client-therapist relationship, it’s up to them. I never ignore a client, no matter how nervous they may seem to see me in another setting. And trust me, sometimes they look very uncomfortable. If somebody asks I just say that we have met “somewhere”.
Another point is when I work one-on-one with people who are related in any way; It does happen that they ask me about each-other, looking for information or wanting me to interfere in some way. I very clearly make them aware that this will not happen unless they come to see me together.
I don’t ask my private clients for testimonials to use as publicity since this puts them in a very awkward situation; if they are happy with my work they will feel they are letting me down if they say no, and most people don’t feel comfortable giving testimonials, even if their name is not mentioned: It moves the energetics of our work from private to public.
In my early days I was not as well-trained in these matters and I made slips and mistakes, always wanting to kick myself afterwards. Nowadays, whatever goes on in the treatment-room stays there. A special place has been created in me that has no connection to my world outside or to me. It is the “treatment-room within me”, so to speak.
All my clients are referrals; from other clients or health-professionals and the reason for this is because I can be trusted. This is the best publicity ever.