Central Penn College - Confidentiality Statement

Central Penn College


Confidentiality Statement

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. Counseling Services staff, however, are legally and ethically required to break confidentiality under the following circumstances:

  • Procuring crisis services when a client expresses a plan and intent to take one's own life
  • Procuring crisis services when a client expresses a plan and intent to take the life of one or more individuals other than the client
  • Reporting knowledge or suspicion of child abuse (any child under age 18) to PA ChildLine
  • Reporting knowledge or suspicion of elder abuse (any adult age 60 or older) to the PA Department of Aging
  • Reporting knowledge or suspicion of abuse of any individual (regardless of age) with a physical and/or intellectual disability to PA Adult Protective Services
  • Providing any requested information by first responders (EMS, Central Penn Security, the Police, etc.) to provide medical treatment when a client experiences a medical emergency while receiving counseling services
  • Responding to a compelling (meaning the counselor is unable to dispute it) request from a court of law
  • Receiving clinical consultation and supervision from another member of the Counseling Services staff to provide a client with ethical and competent care.

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.

A release of information MUST be signed by the student to release information to another person or office at Central Penn College in the case that counseling is mandated, such as in response to a judiciary sanction.  The counselor will work with the student on the appropriateness of determining which information to release, although attendance and whether treatment has been completed are the most common.

No one outside counseling services may have access to the student’s records or given information without the student’s written release of information other than the exceptions previously noted. 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. As a result, Counseling Services will not provide therapeutic intervention over email as confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.  Email will ONLY be used for the purposes of scheduling and attendance, providing information to parties as requested by releases of information, and providing non-clinical information as requested.

A student MUST sign a release of information if he or she desires to have counseling services information released to an external party.  This includes, but is not limited to, parents, primary care physicians, probation/parole officers, case managers, or other providers.. 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 by the outside party, although Counseling Services will not acknowledge whether the student is receiving services unless a release of information has been signed or one of the aforementioned exceptions to confidentiality has occurred.. All efforts are made to respect confidentiality in all types of interactions. You may revoke permission for Counseling Services to contact you via phone or email at any time.

FERPA protects students’ academic work. Faculty or staff members may disclose a student concern stemming from academic work completed or class presentation to Counseling Services. FERPA allows for disclosure of personal observations. Counseling Services, however, may not reveal the student’s involvement in counseling to staff or faculty members unless one of the limitations of confidentiality applies or a release of information has been signed.

Students may discuss concerns about confidentiality with Counseling Services staff at any time.