The laws and standards of my profession require that I keep treatment records. You are entitled to receive a copy or summary of your records at your request. Since professional records can be misinterpreted by or upsetting to untrained readers, I recommend you review them with me if you choose to see them. I am sometimes willing to conduct a review meeting without charge. I charge patients an appropriate fee for any professional time spent responding to information requests.
If you are under eighteen, the law may provide your parents the right to examine your treatment records. I always request an agreement from parents to give up access to your records. If they agree, I will only share general information unless you have a high risk of harming yourself or someone else. If possible, I will speak to you before giving your parents any information. In this conversation, I will address your concerns with what I plan to share. At the end of your treatment, I will prepare a summary of our work together for your parents. We will also discuss this summary before I send it to them.
The law generally protects the privacy of all communications between a patient and a psychologist. I can only release information about our work with your written permission; however, there are a few exceptions.
You have the right to prevent me from providing information about your treatment in legal proceedings unless they involve child custody or your emotional condition is an important issue. A judge may order my testimony if they determine that the issues demand it.
In some situations, the law obligates me to take action to protect you or others. In this case, I may have to reveal some information about your treatment. Namely, if I believe a child, elderly person, or disabled person is suffering abuse, I must inform the appropriate state agency.
If I believe a patient is threatening serious bodily harm to another, I must take protective actions. Such actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking hospitalization for the patient. If the patient threatens self-harm, I may be obligated to seek hospitalization for them or inform others who can provide protection.
I may find it helpful to consult other professionals about a case. In consultations, I take every precaution to protect my patient’s identity. The consultant is also legally bound to keep the information confidential. Unless you object, I will not tell you about these consultations unless I think it aids our work together.
While this summary of exceptions to confidentiality should help inform you about potential problems, we should discuss your concerns together. I will happily discuss these issues with you if you need specific advice. However, you may need formal legal advice because confidentiality laws are complex, and I am not an attorney. If you ask, I can show you relevant portions or summaries of the state laws regarding these issues.