Psychological services are best provided in an atmosphere of trust. You expect me to be honest with you about your problems and progress. I expect you to be honest with me about your expectations for services, your compliance with medication, and any other barriers to your progress.
I will treat with great care all the information you share with me. It is your legal right that our sessions and my records about you be kept private. That is why I ask you to sign a "release-of-records" form before I can talk about you or send my records about you to anyone else. In general, I will tell no one what you tell me. I will not even reveal that you are seeing me.
In all but a few rare situations, your confidentiality (that is, your privacy) is protected by state law and by the rules of my profession. Here are the most common cases in which confidentiality is not protected:
1. If you were sent to me by a court for evaluation or treatment, the court expects a report from me. If this is your situation, please talk with me before you tell me anything you do not want the court to know. You have a right to tell me only what you are comfortable with telling.
2. Are you suing someone or being sued? Are you being charged with a crime? If so, and you tell the court that you are seeing me, I may then be ordered to show the court my records. Please consult your lawyer about these issues.
3. If you make a serious threat to harm yourself or another person, the law requires me to try to protect you or that other person. This usually means telling others about the threat. I cannot promise never to tell others about threats you make.
4. If I believe a child has been or will be abused or neglected, I am legally required to report this to the authorities.
There are two situations in which I might talk about part of your case with another therapist. I ask now for your understanding and agreement to let me do so in these two situations:
First, when I am away from the office for a few days, I have a trusted fellow therapist "cover" for me. This therapist will be available to you in emergencies. Therefore, he or she needs to know about you. Generally, I will tell this therapist only what he or she would need to know for an emergency. Of course, this therapist is bound by the same laws and rules as I am to protect your confidentiality.
Second, I sometimes consult other therapists or other professionals about my clients. This helps me in giving high-quality treatment. These persons are also required to keep your information private. Your name will never be given to them, and they will be told only as much as they need to know to understand your situation.
Except for the situations I have described above, I will always maintain your privacy. I also ask you not to disclose the name or identity of any other client being seen in this office.
I make every effort to keep the names and records of clients private. I will try never to use your name on the telephone; other clients may be in the office and overhear it.
If your records need to be seen by another professional, or anyone else, I will discuss it with you. If you agree to share these records, you will need to sign a release form. This form states exactly what information is to be shared, with whom and why, and it also sets time limits. You may read this form at any time. If you have questions, please ask me.
It is my office policy to retain clients' records for 5 years after the end of our therapy. If we do family or couple therapy (where there is more than one client), and you want to have my records of this therapy sent to anyone, all of the adults present will have to sign a release.
I will continue to protect the confidentiality of our work together after the client is deceased.