Confidentiality is very important for the integrity of the counselling relationship. Counselling for children, youth, adults and families are confidential with a few legal limitations.
The law protects the confidentiality of all communications between a client and counsellor. Information about counselling sessions (Verbal, written) will not be released to anyone without you, your child/youth’s informed, voluntary, and written consent according to PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) guidelines . For more information, click here.
Exceptions to Confidentiality for Adults
Counsellors and social workers are required by law to report to local authorities, or to the person in imminent danger, when we become aware of, or suspect the following:
Client is serious about harming another person including homicide
Client is in imminent danger to themselves, or others (suicidal, homicidal). If clients are assessed as “low risk to suicide” a safety plan will be made and authorities do not need to be alerted
There is suspicion of, or disclosure of, abuse (sexual, sexual exploitation, physical, neglect, spiritual, emotional) of vulnerable persons, such as a child (under 18), elderly person, or person with a disability.
When records are subpoenaed by court order, we must comply
Clients’ insurance company and or other third-party payers involved in your care may request information regarding services to clients. Information that may be requested includes, but is not limited to: types of service, dates/times of service, treatment plan, description of impairment, progress of therapy, case notes, and summaries. We must comply with these requests.
Confidentiality + Minors
Typically, parents/guardians will sign consent for their child who is coming for counselling. However, in special circumstances it is with-in the law for RCC’s and RSW’s to use their discretion for children aged 12 years and older (Infant Act) to determine whether the child can provide consent for their own therapeutic services. This means their privacy is protected in the same way an adult client would be and all information during the counselling sessions will remain confidential, besides the exceptions to confidentiality as described below. The child would also have the right to not give consent for parents/guardians to access their files. This is typically recommended in adversarial situations with strained child-parent relationships. Just because parents pay for counselling does not mean they have the right to access their child’s records, or push their child or the counsellor to disclose information the child has disclosed in therapy. This issue is discussed in more detail in the Minor Informed Consent Form.
Although you may be eager to know about your child’s progress it is counter-productive for counsellors to disclose information to parents about their minor clients unless given assent (permission) by the child. At times the therapist will use their clinical judgement to encourage your child to disclose certain things to you if they think it will help with their progress, or your parent-child relationship. The therapist will attempt to form an agreement with your child that some general information will be shared with you in the mid-way therapy reports and shorter progress reports as therapy progresses.
The relationship between your child and therapist is based on trust, if they perceive that their therapist is relaying information to you this will likely cause irreparable damage. Respecting their privacy promotes positive therapeutic outcomes. Your child will respect your decision to protect their privacy and, in my experience, may actually disclose information to you because you respected their boundaries.
Exceptions to Confidentiality for Minors
As counsellors and social workers, we are obligated by law to report to parents/guardian and local authorities (Police, MCFD), or to the person in imminent danger, when we become aware or suspect the following:
Our minor client is in imminent danger to themselves or others (E.g.: Suicidal, homicidal)
There is suspicion of, or disclosure of abuse (E.g.: sexual, sexual exploitation, physical, neglect, emotional) of vulnerable persons, such as a child (under 18), elderly person, and person with a disability.
Insurance company and or other third-party payers may request information regarding services to clients. Information that may be requested includes, but is not limited to: types of service, dates/times of service, treatment plan, description of impairment, progress of therapy, case notes, and summaries. Counsellors and social workers must comply with such requests.
When records are subpoenaed by court order, we must give them what they require
Minor’s parents or legal guardians of non-emancipated minor clients have the right to access the clients’ records except in the case of mature minors who have signed their own informed consent form. This is strongly discouraged by therapists at Kindred Counselling and our policy is that parents/guardians must agree to not do this before entering their child into a counselling relationship
Storage of Information
All client information is stored either in a locked filing cabinet, or in a secured PIPEDA approved computer storage. This includes all forms, assessments, information requested from other health agencies (with permission) and session notes. Also, any art that was created during sessions are considered confidential information and will also be stored in a safe location and unless the child takes it home. However, at times children like to display their art and with permission we will allow some art to be displayed in a designated area in the office.
Social Media Policy
It is no secret that in our day and age social media and electronic communication has become commonplace. It is a more convenient and often preferred way of communicating. However, in counselling situations it is important to keep your information private and confidential which is not guaranteed in these forms of communication. For this and other reasons, we do not engage in social media with our clients.
Kindred Counselling is located at:
Boundary View Plaza
The Enterprise Centre, Suite 201 3701 E Hastings St, Burnaby, BC