The mentoring group is intended to be a safe setting within which students can trust their mentoring group leaders and fellow students with sensitive personal information as they seek to grow in Christlikeness and fitness for ministry. Confidentiality is an important feature of mentoring groups accomplishing their goal. Students must trust that the things their share in their mentoring groups will stay there.
Students must also know that the pledge of confidentiality is not absolute. There are rare instances when faculty members will be required to share information they learn from students. Reports of abusive relationships, endangering the life of others and/or their own life, criminal and/or immoral behavior that raises serious concerns about one’s qualification for ministry are examples of the level of seriousness in view when faculty members might be required to involve others at the seminary in the determining the best way to serve a particular student.
It is envisioned that the need to suspend the principle of confidentiality would be very rare. It is also envisioned that if groups are functioning as intended, the student would understand that the suspension of the principle of confidentiality is an act of love and care, not of betrayal.
Trust, not the promise of absolute confidentiality, is the key to a mentoring group’s success. The promise of absolute confidentiality does not automatically build trust. Nor does the fact that confidentiality is not absolute mean that the trust essential to formation in the mentoring group is compromised. As students trust that mentoring group leaders are truly “for” them, the fact that confidentiality is not absolute will be less significant.
Mentoring group leaders who must share sensitive information with someone else at the seminary should inform that student what is being shared, with whom, and why.