The helping professions have as their cornerstone the assurance that what a patient shares in a provider’s office is held in the strictest confidence. This confidence allows the patient to be as completely open as is comfortable, thereby sharing information that will more effectively allow the provider to be of assistance. It is essential that the patient feels this to be a safe and private environment so that the deeper and most private thoughts and concerns can be revealed.
Professional Licensing Boards and the ethics of the helping professions establish guidelines and limits to what may be shared outside the consultation room. There are laws prohibiting the disclosure of confidential materials and the professions also govern themselves in this regard. A provider jeopardizes their license to practice if found to be in violation of confidentiality standards.
Upon your first session you will be given a listing of the unique, albeit rare, circumstances when confidentiality may be breached. Usually these refer to situations of potential harm to self or others and as most people know in situations involving child abuse. There are a few other exceptions which you will be apprised of at the first session with me.
On April 14, 2003, new federal privacy regulations know as HIPAA went into effect. These regulations give patients specific rights, and providers responsibilities, in relation to health information privacy. One requirement is for health care providers to give patients a written copy of the providers Notice of Privacy Practices, and to make it available on their web site.