Counseling & Confidentiality - What you need to know
Counseling records are kept separate from academic, disciplinary, and medical records to ensure your privacy and confidentiality. Counseling records are maintained in an electronic database that is stored in a secured, password protected environment and accessible only to Counseling Center staff. Further, all Counseling Center staff and computer support technicians sign a binding confidentiality agreement that prohibits the unauthorized release of client information. To further protect your confidentiality, Counseling Center staff members do not acknowledge that they are familiar with clients while outside the Center, unless the client acknowledges the staff member first.
Information obtained during counseling sessions will not be disclosed to anyone outside the Center without your knowledge and written consent. If you sign a written authorization allowing us to disclose information, you can later cancel your authorization in writing, and we will not disclose any further information after we receive your cancellation.
The only exceptions to these strict confidentiality rules are rare instances where psychologists and counselors are required to reveal particular information by federal, state, or local laws. Such exceptions include when:
- We believe that there is a substantial likelihood that you will cause serious physical harm to yourself or another person unless protective measures are taken. In these cases, Virginia law mandates that the parents of dependent students must be notified of the situation.
- We have reasonable cause to believe that a child is being abused or neglected or an aged or incapacitated adult is being subject to abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
- We receive a request for information after a threat assessment team at a public institution of higher education has determined that you pose a threat of violence to yourself and/or others, or exhibit significantly disruptive behavior or need for assistance.
- We receive a court order upon good cause shown or in compliance with a subpoena.
- We are approached by authorized federal officials for information related to national security and intelligence activities. By law, we may not be able to reveal to the client when we have disclosed such information to the government.
- We need to seek legal advice from our legal advisor
- The parents of a minor (i.e., a student who is under the age of 18) request information.
Social Networking and Confidentiality
Counseling Center staff will not accept friend or contact requests on social networking sites (e.g., Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) from clients or students with whom they have professional relationships (including graduate interns and practicum students). This policy exists to minimize the potential for online relationships that could compromise client confidentiality and the respective privacy of both clients and staff.