Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice

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Volume 65 Issue 4 (December 1992), Pages 305-399

The psychodynamics of the STD clinic: Secrecy, splitting and isolation (pages 319-326)

We introduce the idea of a professionally isolated and apparently disconnected agency. We describe how health professionals working in settings with good multi‐agency links may not recognize the effect of the isolated agency system on the presentation of problems.

In particular, we describe the setting of the Sexually Transmitted Diseases clinic (STD) in which confidentiality can be turned into secrecy by the patients at the service of their denial of the seriousness of their problems. The isolation of the STD clinic as an agency resonates with the patients' isolation from their own feelings and emotional contact with people. It also isolates the professional and the therapeutic network. By way of clinical examples, we describe how this may deskill the staff and lead to dangerous situations.

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