Counseling often involves the disclosure of sensitive and personal information. Professional ethical codes and state laws consider the personal information discussed between a counselor and client (18 years and older) to be strictly confidential. This means that the information that you share in counseling, including the fact that you have used our services, will not be disclosed to anyone (including university officials, faculty, staff, parents, or outside agencies) without your written permission. Also, counseling records are not kept as part of your academic or administrative records.
While a student is a minor, parents have rights to discuss her/his counseling with her/his counselor. Please note that although parents have rights to their child’s counseling information until they become 18, it is often in the best interest of college-aged clients if their patent are only involved when requested by the client and/or counselor. Student under 18 years of age will need written parental consent before receiving counseling services, unless they are in crisis.
There are a few exceptions to confidentiality that you should know about before you begin counseling:
- Abuse/Neglect of a Child of Elder — Counselors who know or reasonably suspect that a child under the age of 18 or elder is being abused or neglected are legally obligated to report this information to appropriate state agencies.
- Harm to Self — If there is evidence that a student poses clear and imminent danger of harming themselves and they are unwilling or unable to follow treatment recommendations, a counselor may seek their involuntary admission to a hospital and notify a family member who may be able to help them.
- Harm to Others — If a counselor has reason to believe that a student is threatening physical violence against another, they may be required to take action to insure that the other person is protected. Such action may include contacting the police, notifying the intended victim, and seeking involuntary hospitalization of the student.
- Court Subpoena — A court-ordered subpoena can require our staff to release information contained in records or to testify in a court hearing.
- Staff Consultation and Supervision of Trainees — CAPS operates as a team to provide the best possible service to students. At times, your counselor may consult with other professional staff or receive supervision from a clinical supervisor. These consultations are for professional and/or training purposes only.
Please note that the situations described in (1), (2), (3), and (4) are extremely rare. If they should occur, however, we will discuss with you any action that is being considered. Students should be aware that CAPS staff are not legally obligated to inform you or seek your permission to take such actions, especially if such a discussion would prevent us from securing your safety or the safety of others. If disclosure of confidential information does become necessary, we will release only the information necessary to protect you and/or another person.
Videotaping and Supervision
CAPS serves as a training site for graduate level counselors in training. All counselors in training are provided with both individual and group supervision by licensed professionals of CAPS. Every counselor in training will have their sessions recorded or observed live, so that a more advanced therapist can monitor and oversee the quality of counseling provided by the center. There are also times when a supervisor/ staff member may want to record a session or have their counselor in training observe a live session for training or consultation purposes.
Because you are being seen in a training site, you are being asked to give written consent for the live observation and recordings of your sessions. Your permission for live observation and recording will not affect your getting services at CAPS, but it may effect the timeliness with which you receive services. Your participation is voluntary and confidential.
Your participation in any recording is voluntary, and confidential, and always requires your written permission. All recordings are erased following their use.
Information About the Use of Email
Because e-mail is not a secure or confidential medium, we cannot guarantee that any e-mail that you send to us will remain confidential. While we consider your communications private and we do not release information about you without your permission, our university administration reserves the right to monitor e-mail usage. For this reason, we offer the following information to help you decide on the best method for contacting us:
- If you are concerned about the content of your email being read by someone other than our staff, you might want to consider phoning or stopping by our office instead.
- While we check our email often during regular office hours, your e-mail message may not be received immediately.
- In an emergency, e-mail is not recommended as a method for contacting us. If time is of particular concern for you, please phone the office instead or come directly to the center.