Are my psychotherapy or counseling sessions confidential?
Federal law protects the confidentiality of all communications between patient / client and psychotherapist. Information is not disclosed without your written permission, except as follows:
Suspected child abuse, dependent adult and elder abuse:
To protect the safety of all concerned, California law requires your psychotherapist to immediately report suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities.
If a client discloses an intention to self-harm:
Your therapist will make every effort to enlist your cooperation to protect and ensure your safety, including contacting appropriate people to assist in preventing harm.
If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s:
For life-threatening and safety concerns, your therapist is required by law to notify the police and also to warn the intended victim/s.
Further information can be viewed here: Limits of Confidentiality
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 give guidelines for electronic transfer (fax) of any private information, for example when billing your insurance company.
Further information can be viewed here: www.dhcs.ca.gov/formsandpubs/laws/hipaa/