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The Full Story

The confidentiality of communications between a member and a counselor is important and, in general, is protected by law. Subject to legal exceptions, information given in services will not be shared with anyone without the memeber's written permission. The following outlines some, but not all, of the circumstances when California or Federal law allows, or requires, a counselor to breach a member's confidentiality. If a member communicates directly to SAP Solutions that they are a threat of physical harm to an identifiable person, we are required by law to warn the intended victim and notify the police. If SAP Solutions believe that a member is in such mental or emotional condition that he/she poses a danger to him/ herself or others, or the property of another person, SAP Solutions may breach confidentiality or contact others to facilitate the member’s safety. SAP Solutions is allowed by law to take protective action, which may include initiating psychiatric hospitalization of a member for up to 72 hours, even if SAP Solutions must do so without a member’s voluntary consent. A counselor has both a legal and ethical responsibility to take action to protect endangered individuals from harm when his or her professional judgment indicates that such a danger exists. If such a situation should arise, it is our policy to fully discuss these matters with a member before taking any action, unless, in professional opinion, there is a good reason not to do so. If we have a reasonable suspicion of child abuse or neglect, or abuse of a dependent, or elder adult (age 65 or older), SAP Solutions is required by law to file a report with the designated protective agencies. In most legal proceedings, a member may assert the Counselor-Patient privilege to protect information about his or her services. However, certain legal activities or court actions, such as a member making his/her mental or emotional state an issue in a court proceeding, may limit a counselor’s ability to maintain confidentiality. A court may also order a counselor to disclose confidential client information. If you are involved in a legal proceeding, please speak with your attorney about the limits of confidentiality. Most insurance agreements require you to authorize your counselor to provide clinical information, for example, a diagnosis, a treatment plan or summary, or even a copy of the entire record. Once the insurance company has this information, the counselor has no control over what the insurance company does with it. If you request that SQP Solutions provide information to your insurance company, we will ask you to sign an authorization for that purpose. If the use of a collection agency becomes necessary, SAP Solutions will furnish them with the required information to collect the fees due. While this summary of exceptions to member confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you about the potential breaches of confidentiality, you should be aware that the laws governing these issues are often complex. I encourage our active discussion of these issues. However, if you would like more specific advice, formal legal consultation may be desirable. This office maintains confidential member records for 5 years after the termination of Assessment. After the 5 year post termination period, the member's records will be destroyed so as to protect client confidentiality. 

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