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Confidentiality

CONFIDENTIALITY AND RECORDS

Federal and state regulations require that we explain your privacy rights and how we maintain the confidentiality of your information. All aspects of your participation in counseling at the Counseling Center, including the scheduling of appointments, content of counseling sessions, all contents of counseling records, and outcomes of counseling, are confidential as required by federal and state law.

The Counseling Center maintains a confidential record of your counseling services and you have access to your own file only. If you are participating in marriage/couples counseling or group counseling, a separate record is kept for each individual, and all confidentiality policies apply independently to each record. Each person has access to his or her own file and records only.

Counseling records consist of an electronic file and database components. All parts of your record are highly secured and are protected by the same confidentiality and privacy laws. Clinicians within the Counseling Center may share your personal health information with each other. In addition, in order to provide the most effective and comprehensive services, Counseling Center clinical staff may consult with the providers in the Student Health Center when the student has been or will be referred from one center to the other.

Only professional counseling staff may access clinical progress notes, test data, or other clinical information in your file. Support staff only have access to contact and demographic information and diagnostic codes for the purpose of statistical tracking and reports. No record of counseling is made on an academic transcript. The Counseling Center retains ownership of all physical records and is responsible for establishing policies regarding the retention of counseling records. At this time, we retain counseling records for 10 years after service is terminated. We do not release your information to anyone without your written permission, except when required and allowed by law.

Exceptions to Confidentiality

> Texas law requires that clinicians who learn of or have strong suspicions of child abuse or neglect report this information to Child Protective Services or law enforcement personnel. This pertains specifically to knowledge of abuse or neglect of a client who is younger than 18 years of age; any child younger than 18 years of age suspected of being at risk of abuse or neglect;  or abuse or neglect by a client toward a person who is younger that 18 years of age.

> Texas law requires abuse or neglect of elderly or disabled persons to be reported to the proper authorities.

> If a clinician assesses that you pose an imminent danger to yourself or others, the clinician may do what is necessary to protect life within the limits of the law. Appropriate university officials and staff (e.g. University Police, vice president for Student Affairs, residence hall director, etc.) who bear responsibility or may incur liability for the welfare of Texas State students may be notified about the student's situation. Only university officials and staff who have a "need to know" to protect the safety of students will receive this information.

> A court-ordered subpoena can require the release of records kept at the Counseling Center or require a clinician to give testimony at a court hearing.

> Texas law requires a clinician to report client abuse or sexual exploitation by a previous therapist to the appropriate county district attorney and licensing board. Client anonymity will be preserved if requested.

> Nonidentifiable demographics and statistical client data may be used for research studies.

Email

Confidentiality is essential to the counseling process and cannot be assured with email.

We cannot guarantee that the contents of an email message will remain confidential. While we will do our best to keep your communication private, email usage can be monitored and the content of your personal messages may be read by others. Staff access to email is limited to the Counseling Center business hours. Also, you have no way of knowing if a specific staff member is unavailable due to illness, vacation, or other reasons. This means that your message may not be read immediately. If time is of particular concern for you, please consider calling our office when requesting information.

Email is not an appropriate medium for individual questions regarding personal or career counseling. It is most appropriate for requesting general information regarding services, resources, or other campus information. Our staff does not respond to inquiries from our clients regarding specific counseling issues.