Are my psychotherapy or counseling sessions confidential?

The law protects the confidentiality of all communications between client and psychotherapist. Information is not disclosed without your written permission, except as follows:

  • Suspected child abuse, dependent adult and elder abuse:

The therapist is required by law to report suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities immediately for the safety of those concerned.

  • If a client intends to harm herself / himself:

The therapist will make every effort to enlist the client’s cooperation to insure their safety, including contacting appropriate people to assist in preventing harm.

  • If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s:

The therapist must notify the police and warn the intended victim/s.

What is HIPAA and how does this affect confidentiality?

HIPAA is the acronym for the 1996 federal legislation entitled the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which became mandatory in 2003. It was designed to protect patients’ privacy rights when their “Protected Health Information” (PHI) is disclosed through oral, written, or electronic means. In addition when employees change or lose their jobs and change health plans, HIPAA regulates exclusions for pre-existing conditions. HIPAA requires that your therapist guard your personal and clinical information safely and confidentially, provide your informed consent for any disclosure to outside “entities” and gives guidelines for electronic transfer (fax) of any private information, for example when billing your insurance company.