Counseling involves the disclosure of sensitive personal and private information by clients. Professional ethics and state and federal laws protect the confidentiality of information shared in counseling. Therefore, no acknowledgment that a student has been seen at Counseling Services will be made, nor will information about his or her actual counseling be released to anyone without the student’s written permission, except as noted below:
- Staff Consultation and Supervision. The Counseling Services staff operates as a team in order to provide the best possible service to clients. Therefore, it is possible that the counselor a client is working with may wish to consult with other staff members. These consultations are for professional and/or supervision purpose only.
- Abuse of Children or Endangered Adult. If we have reason to believe that a child under the age of 18 or an elderly or disabled adult is being abused or neglected, we are legally obligated to report this situation to the appropriate state agency.
- Harm to Self. If we have reason to believe that a client is in danger of physically harming him/herself, putting his/her safety at risk, or a client’s unwillingness or inability to follow treatment recommendations puts him/her at risk of harm, we may be required to contact the police, College officials, and family member or another person. If necessary, we may also seek voluntary or involuntary admission to a hospital to insure a client’s safety.
- Harm to Others. If we have reason to believe that a client is threatening physical violence against another person or is a threat to the safety of another person, we may be required to take actions (such as contacting the police or College officials, notifying the other person, seeking involuntary hospitalization) to ensure that the other person is protected.
- When Required by a Court of Law.
The situations described above are rare. However, if they should occur, it is Counseling Services’ policy that, whenever possible, we will discuss with the student any action that is being considered. Students should be aware that we are not legally obligated to inform them or seek their permission, especially if such a discussion would prevent us from securing their safety or the safety of others. If disclosure of confidential information does become necessary, we will release only the information needed to protect the student and/or another person.
Counseling Services confidential client files are stored electronically and on paper. All information is secured to prevent unauthorized access. Counseling Services’ treatment files are not linked to any other College record or chart. We do not counsel students via e-mail and cannot guarantee the confidentiality of e-mail communications with our office.