Records of your visits to Student Counseling are never released to anyone on or off campus without your written permission, except under unusual circumstances (outlined below).
Law and Ethics
Confidentiality is a crucial concern when it comes to the therapeutic relationship. In all but a few rare situations, client confidentiality (i.e., your privacy) is protected by NYS law and by professional ethical rules. Student Counseling will never release information about you or your services to any outside party without your written authorization; however, there a few limitations on confidentiality.
- If your counselor believes you might seriously harm yourself or another person, the law requires that she or he act to protect you or the other person. This could include contacting emergency personnel, a friend, a family member or appropriate University staff. This also may involve involuntary hospitalization or referral for additional clinical services.
- Student Counseling is required to comply with the NYS SAFE Act. This law requires mental health professionals to inform the County Director of Community Services if you are likely to engage in conduct that will result in serious harm to self or others. If we determine that you are in imminent danger of seriously hurting yourself or someone else, we will alert the Onondaga County Director of Community Services and provide him/her with your name, contact information, and diagnosis(es).
- A court of law may order a mental health professional to release an individual’s records. In such cases, Student Counseling would be required to release your record, with or without your consent. Please consult your lawyer and inform your counselor if you are involved in any court proceeding.
- Therapists are mandated reporters of child and elder abuse. If we learn of a present-day situation in which a child or dependent elder is being abused, we are legally required to report this to the appropriate authorities.
Coverage and Case Consultation
There are two situations in which your therapist might share some information about you with another therapist:
If a therapist needs to be away from the office, s/he will arrange for a trusted colleague to "cover" for him/her. Generally, your therapist will tell the covering therapist only what he or she would need to know for an emergency. The covering therapist is bound by the same laws and ethical rules to protect your confidentiality.
Therapists sometimes consult other therapists or other professionals about their clients. This helps them to provide high-quality treatment. Consulting professionals are told only as much as they need to know to understand your situation and are not given identifying information. Consulting therapists are bound by legal and ethical mandates to protect your confidentiality.
SCS maintains records of your visits in accordance with NYS and federal law. If you wish to release these records to any third party, you will need to sign an authorization to release information. New York State mental health law states that patients have the right to request copies of their mental health records; however, mental health law further states that mental health professionals may deny access to all or part of the information requested or may grant access only to a summary of the information if, after consideration, it is determined that the information may cause harm to the patient. If you are interested in reviewing your mental health record, please speak directly with your therapist.
Resident Providers and Faculty Supervisors
Resident providers are supervised by faculty. Supervisors are bound by the same laws and ethics to protect your privacy. Resident providers and supervisors are prohibited from providing academic or other professional evaluations or oversight of medical students whom they treat.