CONFIDENTIALITY & PRIVACY POLICY

The psychotherapy services offered at Heartland Counseling are consistent with the best contemporary standards of the mental health field, and are grounded in a Christian view of persons. Our goal is to aid in the healing and growth of our clients by using the methods of modern clinical psychology, and to do so in a manner honoring to God and conducive to spiritual renewal and growth for our clients. If you have any questions beyond those covered below, please do not hesitate to contact us.

The law protects the privacy of all communications between a patient and a mental health professional. In most situations, we can only release information about your treatment to others if you sign a written Authorization form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by HIPAA and/or Illinois law. However, in the following situations, no authorization is required:

• Your therapist may occasionally find it helpful to consult other health and mental health professionals about a case. All therapists-in-training are required to do so. During a consultation, your therapist will make every effort to avoid revealing your identity. The other professionals are also legally bound to keep the information confidential.

• Our Practice employs administrative staff. We need to share protected information with these individuals for both clinical and administrative purposes, such as scheduling, billing and quality assurance. All our mental health professionals are bound by the same rules of confidentiality. All our staff members have been given training about protecting your privacy and have agreed not to release any information outside of the practice without the permission of a professional staff member.

• Our Practice utilizes a billing service, and periodically employs the services of other professionals such as accountants. All staff members at each of these agencies is also bound to protect your privacy and have agreed not to release any information outside our practice and within their own agency.

• You should also be aware that your contract with your health insurance company requires that you authorize us to provide it with information relevant to the services that we provide to you. If you are seeking reimbursement for services under your health insurance policy, you will be required to allow us to provide such information. We are required to provide a clinical diagnosis. Sometimes we are required to provide additional clinical information such as treatment plans or summaries, or copies of your entire Clinical Record. In such situations, we will make every effort to release only the minimum information about you that is necessary for the purpose requested.

• If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information concerning your diagnosis and treatment, such information is protected by the psychologist-patient privilege law. We cannot disclose any information without a court order. If you are involved in or contemplating litigation, you should consult with your attorney to determine whether a court would be likely to order your therapist to disclose information.

 

There are some situations in which we are legally obligated to take actions, which we believe are necessary to attempt to protect others from harm and we may have to reveal some information about a patient’s treatment. These situations are unusual in our practice.

• If your therapist has reasonable cause to believe that a child under 18 may be an abused child or a neglected child, the law requires that we file a report with the local office of the Department of Children and Family Services. Once such a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.

• If we have reason to believe that an adult over the age of 60 living in a domestic situation has been abused or neglected in the preceding 12 months, the law requires that we file a report with the agency designated to receive such reports by the Department of Aging. Once such a report is filed, we may be required to provide additional information.

• If you have made a specific threat of violence against another or if your therapist believes that you present a clear, imminent risk of serious physical harm to another, we may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking your hospitalization.

• If your therapist believes that you present a clear, imminent risk of serious physical or mental injury or death to yourself, we may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include seeking your hospitalization or contacting family members or others who can assist in protecting you. If such a situation arises, your therapist will make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking any action and will limit disclosure to what is necessary.

While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you about potential problems, it is important that we discuss any questions or concerns that you may have now or in the future. The laws governing confidentiality can be quite complex, and your therapist is not an attorney. In situations where specific advice is required, formal legal advice may be needed. The laws and standards for mental health professionals require that we keep Protected Health Information about you in your Clinical Record. You may examine and/or receive a copy of your Clinical Record, if you request it in writing. Because these are professional records, they can be misinterpreted and/or upsetting to untrained readers. For this reason, we recommend that you initially review them in your therapist’s presence, or have them forwarded to another mental health professional so you can discuss the contents.
MINORS & PARENTS Patients under 12 years of age and their parents should be aware that the law allows parents to examine their child’s treatment records. Parents of children between 12 and 18 cannot examine their child’s records unless the child consents and unless the therapist finds that there are no compelling reasons for denying the access. Parents are entitled to information concerning their child’s current physical and mental condition, diagnosis, treatment needs, services provided, and services needed. Since parental involvement is often crucial to successful treatment, in most cases, your therapist will require that patients between 12 and 18 years of age and their parents enter into an agreement that allows parents access to certain additional treatment information. If everyone agrees, during treatment, your therapist will provide parents with general information about the progress of their child’s treatment, and his/her attendance at scheduled sessions. We will also provide parents with a summary of treatment when it is complete. Any other communication will require the child’s Authorization, unless we feel that the child is in danger or is a danger to someone else, in which case, the therapist will notify the parents of this concern. Before giving parents any information, we will discuss the matter with the child, if possible, and do our best to handle any objections he/she may have.