Policy Statement: Due to the nature of the counseling relationship, confidentiality and privacy are highly valued. However, there are limitations of confidentiality imposed by regulations.
Counseling services’ staff regards inquiries and counseling discussions as private and confidential. This scope of confidentiality begins at age 14 for mental health services per Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act. In alignment with HIPAA, state licensure and professional code of ethics, no information of any kind is given to anyone outside of the counseling staff unless it is specifically requested in writing, except in one or more of the situations listed below:
- Serious immediate threat to your life or welfare
- Serious immediate threat to the life or welfare of another person
- Suspicion of child abuse (children under the age of 18)
- Report of imminent danger to the community at large
- When required by a court of law
- Counseling staff consultation and supervision
HIPAA allows for exception of the release of records rule for the following reasons: training purposes, to defend oneself in legal proceedings brought by the client, to Health and Human Services to investigate or determine the entity’s compliance with the Privacy Rules, to avert a serious and imminent threat to public health or safety; to a health oversight agency for lawful oversight of the originator of the psychotherapy notes; and for the lawful activities of a coroner or medical examiner or as required by law.
For scope of confidentiality implications during Student Alert meetings, please see policy and procedure on Student Alert team.
If meeting during a class period, permission must be obtained in order to inform the professor of session. See the Excuses from Class policy.
The counselor may release the attendance of sessions to the college official in review of a decision or with judiciary matters. Only attendance will be shared. See the Mandated Counseling policy.
No one outside counseling services may have access to the student’s records or given information without the student’s written consent, outside of exceptions mentioned. Access to records by counseling services’ staff is limited to those who have a legitimate need to know. Information solicited by the counselor is for the student’s benefit and treatment as specified by regulating bodies and legislation. The counselor will make all efforts to protect the confidentiality of the student’s written and electronic records and other sensitive information. See the Electronic Student Communications policy for limitations of encryption of Central Penn technology platforms.
A student may sign a release of information if he or she desires to have counseling services information released to an external party. Without the release of information, counseling information may not be released outside of stated exceptions above.
Counseling records are available for the student’s review with the counselor. Information conveyed to counseling services by someone other than the student is not considered confidential and may be shared. The counselor may need to contact or respond to the student through electronic, verbal, or written means unless specified otherwise. All efforts are made to respect confidentiality in all types of interactions. You may revoke permission to contact you in specific manners. See Electronic Student Communications policy.
FERPA protects students’ academic work. Faculty or staff members may disclose a student concern stemming from academic work completed or class presentation. FERPA allows for disclosure of personal observations. However, the counselor may not reveal the student’s involvement with counseling services to the staff or faculty member unless one of the limitations of confidentiality applies. See Faculty and Staff Observations and Referrals policy.
If a student has any questions on confidentiality or other procedures, they are to be addressed with a member of the counseling services’ staff.