Confidentiality

What is confidentiality?

Due to the sensitive and personal nature of counseling, questions regarding confidentiality are understandable.  You should feel free to direct any questions about confidentiality to your therapist or a Counseling Center staff member at any time. 

All therapeutic services are strictly confidential.  This means that nothing you share with your therapist is revealed to anyone without your permission.   This is true, even if what you are sharing has to do with activities that are not permitted by the school or the law (exceptions do apply and are listed below).  We do not disclose your name or identifying information to anyone outside of the Counseling Center. This includes other students, faculty and staff of the college, or family members.  

In order to provide you with the highest quality of care, your therapist may consult with other Counseling Center staff.  Other than these internal consultations, it is completely your decision whether to tell anyone that you are in counseling.  If, for example, you would like us to speak to someone (e.g. your parents or an outside doctor) about some aspect of your mental health care, we can do that but only with your written permission.  If you are referred to the center by a staff or faculty member, it is your discretion whether you want to disclose if or when you came to Counseling Center. 

Are there limits to confidentiality?

Yes.  There are situations in which we are required by law and/or professional ethics to release information.  These include:

  • Our assessment that you are a danger to yourself or others.
  • Our assessment that a child or elder is being abused, neglected or exploited. 
  • If we are required to present records or information as part of a legal proceeding.  

Should any of these situations arise, our staff will make every effort to discuss with you what steps will be taken. 

There are some institutions that ask whether you have been in counseling on their application forms (e.g. the Peace Corps, the C.I.A., police departments, and state bar associations).  If you tell these organizations that you have been in counseling, they are likely to ask your permission to seek information from your counselor. However, rest assured that no outside agency will know about your contact with Counseling Services unless you give them and us your explicit permission. 

Are my counseling records made a part of my permanent file?

No. No information disclosed during sessions is kept in your permanent academic or financial records held by the university.  In fact, all records are destroyed after seven years in accordance with the law after your final session.