Counseling often involves the discussion of sensitive personal information. It is important that you feel safe in your discussions with a counselor, and that your privacy is respected and protected.
The confidentiality of information you share with a Center counselor is protected by professional ethical standards as well as by state law. The primary governing regulation is the District of Columbia Mental Health Information Act. Other professional guidelines include the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Ethics, the National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, and the American Psychiatric Association Principles of Medical Ethics.
The Center will not disclose your status as a client or release any information related to your counseling to anyone outside the Center without your written permission. This includes responding to inquiries from parents, friends, professors, advisors, etc. There are a few very rare exceptions to confidentiality which you should know about.
1. The law allows for confidential information to be shared as necessary under the following circumstances:
-- to prevent you from injuring yourself or someone else -- to halt or prevent child abuse -- when required by a court of law (a) for a criminal case in which you are charged with killing or injuring another, (b) for criminal proceedings in which you raise an insanity defense or such defense is raised on your behalf, or (c) civil proceedings in which you have raised your mental or emotional condition as an aspect of a claim.
Should such rare circumstance occur, we will discuss with you whenever possible any action that is being considered (although we are not legally obligated to do so) and we will release only the minimum information required by the circumstances.
2. Counselors may obtain necessary and confidential consultation or supervision with other mental health professionals to ensure the quality of your care.
3. Minor students under the age of 18 who voluntarily seek treatment in their best interests are generally afforded the same confidentiality protection as an adult student, but there are some limitations which a counselor will be happy to discuss with you. These limitations should not keep you from seeking help -- call and consult with a counselor about your confidentiality concerns.
If you have any questions, or your would like to learn more about confidentiality, call x3500 and ask to speak with a Counseling Center counselor.