Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Confidentiality

I'm having a bit of a problem deciding how to treat a confidentiality issue. Is it right for me to even ask a Living Room member to have his or her picture taken for an article on mental illness and the church?

Our policy is to keep everything confidential, even who does and does not come to Living Room meetings. But I've been asked by the editor of a newspaper which is doing this article, an article which will include a lot about Living Room, if I would supply a picture of some of the members. Now I just don't know if it's right for me to even ask them. Yet the cause is so good. Maybe some of our members would like to do this to further reducing the stigma. It would be their opportunity to contribute.

Just writing about it here has helped me make up my mind. I will ask one or two people and make it very clear they don't have to feel they're letting me down if they don't feel comfortable.

6 comments:

Julie H. Ferguson said...

I run into this same problem in schools.
I get around it by having the photo taken of me surrounded by kids who have their backs to the camera.
It might work for this situation...

marja said...

That would be a great idea, Julie. Trouble is, they don't want me in the picture. I think they're publishing a companion piece about my book. It would be too much focus on marja.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
I think you've solved the problem. You can ask, and if people don't want to participate they don't have to. I can't imagine anyone would be offended if you asked...as long as you don't care if they say, "no."

However, another side of me says it's wrong for the magazine to ask you to do this. Since anonymity is a key component of the program, that should be honored as well.

Alas...

Susan

marja said...

Susan,

"Alas" is right. I'm just so happy that they're focusing on Living Room as an important ministry. Can't really turn around and criticize them, can I?

Well, I have two out of the three who have agreed to be in the picture. Only one more to go.

Wellness Writer said...

Marja,
No, you can't criticize the magazine, and, of course, it's great publicity! Congrats!

Susan

marja said...

Thanks, Susan.