It is part of the psychologist's job to maintain each client's safety and security in accordance with ethical and legal mandates.
As a client, it is important to understand privacy and security policies and how they impact the treatment process. There are ethical and legal rules in place to protect a client's privacy in order to create a safe space in which clients can feel comfortable speaking openly and honestly with the therapist.
Confidentiality is part of the psychology ethics code and allows clients to talk about information without worrying that it will be discussed outside of the therapy office. However, please note that there are limits to confidentiality and the therapist is a mandated reporter. This means there are certain situations in which a psychologist must share information without the client's written consent. Limits to confidentiality include information that suggests significant safety risk or harm to self or others. More specifically, the psychologist must legally report the following information to the appropriate authorities:
Laws are in place to protect your privacy as a client. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects a client's medical records, mental health records, and other personal health information. These are nationally established rules, although there are variations based on state requirements. Court orders also warrant the disclosure of certain information.
Notably, psychologists share certain information about the client's mental health treatment with the program paying for the client's treatment (e.g. health insurance company) in order to receive authorization for the client's treatment. The client has the right to pay out of pocket for services and refrain from any disclosure of personal health information to other companies, such as the health insurance company. If you choose to pay out of pocket for services, the insurance may not know that you are seeing a psychologist or other mental health provider.
When providing services to a child or adolescent, some information will be shared with the legal guardian. The extent of what is discussed about a child or adolescent's treatment will be discussed at the beginning of the treatment process so that all parties are aware of the rules and so that the child or adolescent can comfortably proceed to share personal information with the psychologist without uncertainty about how it will be used or shared.
* If you have any questions or concerns about these security policies, feel free to ask about them at your first appointment or call the Center for Psychology and Wellness at 1.847.607.1589.