State law and professional standards require that we maintain patient records, as do other health practitioners. Patient records are kept within CAPS' secure data system and records room; these are not part of your educational records or part of any University data system.
All patient information is confidential, including the fact that you are participating in therapy at CAPS. This means that under ordinary circumstances, no protected information will be revealed to anyone outside of CAPS without your written permission.
Consistent with the law and professional ethics, there are emergency and other special circumstances when CAPS and/or your therapist may be required to disclose information, including:
- State law requires licensed health professionals to report knowledge of abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of children (under 18 years), developmentally disabled adults and elders.
- If you become a danger to yourself or another person, CAPS 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.
- If a court orders CAPS to reveal confidential patient information.
- If a student who is gravely disabled due to mental illness/disability or dangerous to self or others, refuses voluntary treatment, information may be released to a county-designated Mental Health Professional and hospital emergency room personnel.
- If your therapist is your primary health provider and you disclose that you are HIV positive, either you or your therapist must disclose the identities of any IV drug-using/sexual partners to the state Department of Health.
To protect your records at CAPS and your other health records, we recommend that you carefully read any releases or authorization forms that you are asked to sign while applying for employment, for participation in service programs, and for health and life insurance.
Applications for federal jobs requiring security clearance, for postal service positions and for some other federal agencies, may include a comprehensive authorization to release information, including disclosure of your counseling and mental health records.
Service programs such as the Peace Corp may ask you to sign an authorization for release of medical and mental health records before you are accepted into the program. Law students should note that in some states the application to take the bar exam asks about treatment for psychiatric and psychological conditions. In a few states, medical boards request this information as well.
If you sign such an authorization CAPS may be contacted by the organization. We generally respond to such requests with very brief summaries rather than the entire record. In our experience to date, this has been sufficient.
Since CAPS is also a training center, your therapist may be a graduate student in social work, psychology, counseling or a related field. Trainees discuss their work with clients with their supervisor, who is legally and ethically responsible for the care provided.
Supervision is intended to promote the highest quality care. To facilitate supervision, you may be asked for permission to audio and/or video tape sessions. These recordings are usually destroyed within a few weeks when no longer needed; they are never retained longer than 30 days. At all times your privacy and care will be treated with the highest regard.
On occasion, your therapist may consult with other professionals within CAPS, including the Psychiatric Resident, in order to provide the best possible care.