The confidentiality of information you share with a counseling center counselor is protected by professional ethical standards and by Washington state law. The primary governing regulation is provided by the Washington Department of Health (www.doh.wa.gov). Other professional guidelines include the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Ethics, the American Counselor Association Code of Ethics, and the Marriage and Family Therapy Code of Ethics.
The counseling center will not disclose your status as a client or release any information related to your counseling to anyone outside the center without your written permission. In keeping with the law and professional ethics, there are emergency and other special circumstances when the counseling center and/or your counselor may be required to disclose information. The law allows for confidential information to be shared as necessary under the following circumstances:
- State law requires licensed health professionals to report knowledge of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of children (under 18 years), dependent adults and elders.
- If you become a danger to yourself or another person, counselors may need to take steps to decrease the danger and prevent harm, including the disclosure of confidential information; if you are a threat to an identifiable victim, we may be required to notify the police and the person at risk of harm.
- We must respond if a court orders the counseling center to reveal confidential client information.
- Counselors may obtain necessary and confidential consultation or supervision with other mental health professionals to ensure the quality of your care.
If something like this occurs, we will, whenever possible, discuss with you any action that is being considered (although we are not legally obligated to do so), and we will release only the minimum information required by the circumstances.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to learn more about confidentiality, call the counseling center and ask to speak with a counselor.