LIMITS OF CONFIDENTIALITY
Contents of all therapy sessions are considered to be confidential. Both verbal information and written records about a client cannot be shared with another party without the written consent of the client or the client’s legal guardian.
Confidentiality is one of the cornerstones of effective counseling. One of the reasons it works is that people feel safe, secure, and confident that what they talk about in counseling stays in counseling. I will make every effort to ensure that information about your case is kept confidential. There are certain legal and ethical requirements that specify conditions under which it may be necessary to for me to discuss your case with other professionals. (see below)
Information revealed in marital therapy is protected by privileged communication and requires permission of both to waive. When working with couples, there is a “no secret” rule. Should I speak individually with either party (i.e. via telephone or in person when both parties have agreed to my meeting with the person); I reserve the right to disclose any information to the other party if I believe that such information is relevant to the therapy process.
When working with couples and families, confidentiality and privilege do not apply between the couple or among family members. I will use my clinical judgment when revealing such information.
Special Note: When parental separation or divorce confronts a family, it is very hard on everyone. It is important that when working as a couple, each person feels safe to speak openly and honestly, without fears that material revealed in therapy will be revealed in court and used in a negative fashion. In order to provide a safe environment for couple’s work, it is important that you agree to not call me as a witness or to attempt to subpoena records in that event that you choose to pursue divorce. While a judge may overrule this agreement and issue a court order for information, your signature (s) below reflect your agreement not to call me as a witness nor attempt to subpoena psychological records.
Noted exceptions to confidentiality are as follows:
1. Duty to Warn and Protect: If I believe that there is a danger that you may harm yourself or others or that you are incapable of taking care of yourself. When a client discloses intentions or a plan to harm self or another person, I am required to warn the intended victim and report this information to legal authorities. In cases in which the client discloses or implies a plan for suicide, the health care professional is required to notify legal authorities and make reasonable attempts to notify the family of the client.
2. Abuse of Children and Vulnerable Adults: If I become aware of your involvement in the abuse (physical, sexual or emotional) of children, elderly, or disabled persons or neglect. If a client states or suggests that he or she is abusing or neglecting a child (or vulnerable adult) or has recently abused or neglected a child (or vulnerable adult), or a child (or vulnerable adult) is in danger of abuse or neglect, I am required to report this information to the appropriate social service and/or legal authorities.
3. Prenatal Exposure to Controlled Substances: I am required to report admitted prenatal exposure to controlled substances that are potentially harmful.
4. Minors/Guardianship: Parents or legal guardians of non-emancipated minor clients have the right to access the clients’ records.
5. Insurance Providers (when applicable): If your insurance company requests records in order to verify the services received and determine compensation. This also includes when insurance payers, case supervisors or auditors require information.
6. Court Subpoena: If I am ordered by a court to release your records.
This sometimes happens when patients are plaintiffs in lawsuits and psychological records are subpoenaed as part of that process. If you place your mental status at issue in litigation initiated by you, the defendant may have the right to obtain the counseling records and/or testimony by me.
Due to the nature of the legal process and the fact that it often involves making a full disclosure with regard to many matters which may be of a confidential nature, it is agreed that should there be legal proceedings (such as but not limited to divorce, custody disputes, injuries, lawsuits, State Child Welfare hearings, etc.), neither you (client) nor your attorney, nor anyone else acting on your behalf will call on June Thornton-Marsh to testify in court or at any other proceeding, nor will a disclosure of the counseling records be requested.
7. Ongoing Therapist Training and Consultation:As part of a supervision process, I may discuss your case with another professional, respectful of removing all identifying information.
8. When a social worker is defending his- or herself in a lawsuit.