The privacy of communications between a patient and a psychologist or therapist is safeguarded by the law. Generally, we can only disclose information about your treatment to others if you provide written consent through a Release of Information form that meets the legal requirements set by HIPAA. Occasionally, we may find it beneficial to consult with other healthcare and mental health professionals regarding a case. During these consultations, we take great care to protect the client’s identity, and the professionals involved are also bound by confidentiality obligations. Unless we deem it necessary for our work together, we will not inform you about these consultations. However, all consultations will be documented in your clinical record.
There are circumstances where we may be permitted or required to disclose information without your consent or authorization. They include:
- Involvement in a court proceeding: If information about our professional services is requested in a legal matter, such information is protected by the psychologist-client privilege law. We cannot disclose any information without your written authorization or a court order. If you are engaged in or considering litigation, it is advisable to consult your attorney to determine if a court would compel us to disclose information.
- Government health oversight activities: If a government agency requests information for health oversight purposes, we are obligated to provide it.
- Client complaint or lawsuit: If a client files a complaint or lawsuit against us, we may disclose relevant information in order to defend our practice.
- Workers’ compensation claims: If a client files a workers’ compensation claim, we are required to submit a report to the Workers’ Compensation Division.
There are legal obligations that may require us to take actions we believe are necessary to protect you or others from harm, which may involve disclosing some information about your treatment. These situations include:
- Communication of self-harm or suicide intent: If you express an intent to harm or kill yourself, we may be obligated to seek hospitalization for your safety or contact family members or others who can provide support and protection.
- Child abuse or neglect: If we have reasonable cause to know or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected, or if we witness circumstances that could reasonably lead to abuse or neglect, the law requires us to file a report with the appropriate governmental agency. Once a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.
- Mistreatment of at-risk adults: If we have reasonable cause to believe that an at-risk adult is being mistreated, self-neglected, or financially exploited, the law requires us to file a report with the appropriate governmental agency. Once a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.
- Serious threat of physical violence: If you communicate a serious threat of imminent physical violence against a specific person or persons, we must make an effort to notify the individuals at risk, inform law enforcement, and/or take other necessary actions, including seeking hospitalization if deemed necessary.
- Serious threat to national security: If you disclose a serious threat to national security, we are obligated to make an effort to notify the appropriate law enforcement agency.
- Reporting concerning behavior of a healthcare provider: If you inform us about the behavior of another named health or mental health care provider, such as engaging in sexual contact with a patient (including yourself) or being impaired in practice due to cognitive, emotional, behavioral, or health issues, the law requires us to report this to their licensing board at the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. We would inform you before taking this step.
If you and your partner participate in couples’ therapy, it’s important to note that individual sessions with the therapist as part of the therapy are considered part of the couples’ therapy. Consequently, any information shared in those individual sessions may be discussed in joint sessions. Please refrain from disclosing anything you wish to keep confidential from your partner. Your therapist will remind you of this policy before starting individual sessions.
While this summary provides an overview of exceptions to confidentiality, it is crucial that we address any questions or concerns you may have now or in the future. Confidentiality laws can be intricate, and our therapists are not legal professionals. In situations requiring specific advice, it may be necessary to seek formal legal counsel.