Confidentiality during Mental Health Treatment

The biggest worry that patients most often carry leading up to and/or during their first sessions of mental health treatment is how their privacy will be maintained throughout. Will my friends know I am seeking help? Is this safe for me?

There are actually state and federal laws that define confidentiality both from a medical standpoint and a psychological standpoint to keep you safe and your thoughts and emotions private.

Photo Credit: University of Nevada School of Medicine magazine via Compfight cc

Confidentiality is crucial to any clinical relationship and includes the scheduling of appointments, consent of counseling sessions, and medical records. Psychologists understand that in order to help their clients to their fullest capacity, they need to feel comfortable talking and this requires a safe space to talk.

The records of your communication with a clinician can only be released to certain personnel when either a.) you sign a Consent form and/or release of information form authorizing the release and/or b.) the clinician believes you are in immediate danger of harming yourself or others.

Although, there are specific cases when there are limits to your confidentiality and a signed form may not be required for your clinician to release your records:

1. If the clinician or staff member believes you are likely to harm yourself or another person, they might take action necessary to protect you or others by contacting law enforcement officers or a physician.

2. If the clinician or staff member believe that you have been or is currently being abused or neglected, they are required to make a report to the state agency.

If you are unsure about how your information and records are being handled or if you have any questions at all, be sure to discuss this with your clinician. They will give you the most accurate answer and can refer you to forms and documents which might help you further understand your rights.

Source: University of Texas Mental Health Center

Is this helpful?! Is there anything else you would like to know about your confidentiality? Let us know below!


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