I read with interest P. Howe?s letter about the debate over doctors becoming more involved in the firearms licensing process (Wise counsel, 5 January). I am familiar with this issue, as my husband holds a shotgun certificate. If you are receiving counselling through your GP, this would go on your medical record and may impact on your ability to hold a certifi cate. There is an unfortunate paradox here ? you could be penalised for addressing your emotional concerns rather than allowing them to worsen. Surely, it is more responsible for gun owners to try to resolve their difficulties and avoid the risk of untreated depression that could lead to the kind of action that the gun laws aim to prevent?

In counselling and psychotherapy, client confidentiality is taken seriously as part of the Code of Ethics. In my private practice (www.livingforwards.com)and likewise for many other therapists, I ask clients for their GP details, but make it clear that I would only contact them if there were an actual or perceived threat that the person might seriously harm or kill themselves or someone else. Any ethical therapist will explain in detail the exact limits of confi dentiality so that a potential client can decide whether or not this context for exploring their diffi culties feels safe. This applies to working with clients face-to-face, by phone or online.

I hope that this offers some further clarification on the issue and that readers who are facing difficult times will consider counselling to be a viable option for addressing their concerns.

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