Confidentiality is maintained for clients except:
If a person or persons are at risk, confidentiality will be waived, and the appropriate authorities or
family members notified. Such situations include the following:
- Self-harm. If a client is actively suicidal and shares this information with a counsellor, the counsellor must reach out and seek help to get the client immediate resources to save his/her life.
- Threats of harm to others. If a client discloses they have plans and intent to carry out harm against an identifiable person, the counsellor must break confidentiality to protect that person.
- Child abuse. If a client reveals that they are aware of child abuse, then counsellors – as mandated reporters – are bound to break confidentiality and report a concern of abuse to the proper authorities.
- Elder abuse. If a client reveals knowledge of an elderly person being abused, counsellors are bound to report that allegation to the proper authorities.
- Billing. Counsellors may break confidentiality to submit your name and information to insurance or other sources for the purpose of being paid for their services. This should be discussed in the initial session to ensure no issues pertaining to payment will arise later.
- Subpoena. This is very rare, but counsellors can be subpoenaed by court to provide specific information about a first responder who is directly charged with criminal or civil violations. Counsellors can try to challenge the subpoena, which may have differing levels of effectiveness depending on the judge and/or specific state laws. If the counselor is compelled to hand over records, then it would typically include a copy of the intake paperwork, a summary letter of sessions attended and, in the worst case scenario, session notes.