A first step would be to immediately contact the distressed parent and attempt to arrange a meeting with them to discuss the circumstances. It would be prudent for me to try to talk to the parent about what actually happened at the event, so that they have a better understanding of presentation. It might also make sense for me to explain and clarify with the parents what my ethical obligations are with respect to maintaining confidentiality and demonstrate clearly how those obligations were fulfilled. The key here would be to ensure I do this in a way that is constructive rather than appearing condescending or appear like I am belittling the parent. It might make sense to ensure another behavior analyst is present at the meeting to avoid any unnecessary tensions.
First, it should be reiterated that I seemingly followed the ethical guidelines at the ABA conference. Compliance code 2.06 outlines the expectations for how behavior analysts shall maintain confidentiality, and my presentation achieved that. No names were provided, and it could be intimated that no other personally identifying details were present. Thus, all necessary protocols were taken to ensure that the general public, or anyone not intimately familiar with the circumstances of the child and their family, would be able to identify them. That is, all reasonable precautions were taken to preserve anonymity and confidentiality.
It also bears mentioning that the psychologist could identify the specific scenario because they already work with the child’s family. That is the sole reason why the psychologist knew who my presentation was about. If the psychologist did not work with the family, it seems unlikely they would be able to discern who the presentation was about. It would be impractical and unfeasible for any professional bound to a strict code of ethics, whether behavior analysts or psychologists, to create presentations that are so ambiguous that other attending professionals who work with the family to not be able to identify the family referenced in the scenario.
Insofar as requiring client consent, this is addressed in compliance code 8.04 about media presentations and media-based services. Behavior analysts who do presentations are not permitted to share personal information about their clients without prior written consent. However, this case does not require client consent since their real names were not used. Thus, the client’s confidential information was concealed throughout the conference. This is because I am aware that it may cause harm to the client if the information was identifiable.
In sum, my stance would be that I fulfilled my confidentiality obligations during the presentation. I would endeavour to explain this to the parents, and perhaps offer them to take a look at the presentation if it helped them understand my position on the matter. Their name was changed to ensure their information was unidentifiable, and no harm was caused to them. Moreover, it actually strikes me as likely that the psychologist did greater harm. The psychologist, who is also likely bound to similar code of ethics on confidentiality, ought reasonably to have known that no real ethical violation occurred. Thus, the psychologist is the individual responsible for causing the parents’ distress.