According to licensing guidelines and federal law, each clinician must respect the client’s right to privacy and avoid illegal or unwarranted disclosure of confidential information without specific written consent of the client. Disclosure to parents, faculty or staff, or to any unauthorized person requesting information about the student or their health history, is both illegal and unethical.
The right to privacy may be waived by the student, or by the client’s guardian in cases of students under the age of 18. In all other cases, confidentiality must ethically and legally be secured except for the following reasons:
- The clinician is legally and ethically bound to disclose confidential information in order to prevent clear and imminent danger to the client or to others. Specifically, confidential information may be disclosed in case of suicide, homicide, or physical or sexual abuse of another.
- A clinician must disclose confirmation of a fatal and contagious disease to an identifiable third party who is at a high risk of contracting the disease. Before doing so, the clinician must confirm that the client has not already informed the third party of the illness.
- When a court orders confidential information to be disclosed without the signed consent of the client, a counselor must first discuss this request with the client. In the case of court mandate of disclosure, the counselor must submit the minimal amount of information possible to comply with the request of the court.
- Clinicians are ethically permitted to discuss a client case in supervision or treatment teams.
If you have any questions about confidentiality and its limits, contact the Hamel Health and Counseling Center.