MFT Department Supports AATA Letter Condemning the Use of Confidential Therapy Notes against Detained Children in Court

According to the American Art Therapy Association (AATA) website, AATA President Dr. Margaret Carlock-Russo sent a letter to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) on February 24, 2020, condemning the current practice of using notes from required therapy sessions against detained youth in court – a clear breach of patient confidentiality and abuse of power.

Einat Metzl, associate professor of LMU Marital and Family Therapy (with specialized training in Art Therapy), and chair of the department commented, “The LMU Department of Marital and Family Therapy fully supports the AATA board in condemning the unethical practice of using clinical documentation in deportation cases. We encourage our students and alumni to refer to the links provided to read the entirety of the letter sent to ICE by the AATA president. Additionally, the AATA website offers ethical standards and a list of other supporting clinical organizations efforts for those who desire access to additional resources.”

In the letter, Dr. Carlock-Russo writes, “Not only does [the use of therapy records] violate client-therapist trust and damage the therapeutic relationship, it can be re-traumatizing to already vulnerable youth. I strongly appeal to federal officials and policy makers to champion trauma-informed practices that support a child’s right to feel safe, be protected, and live without fear and maltreatment—and end the practice of using detained children’s traumatic past experiences against them.”

Please visit the AATA website for more information.