Confidentiality and Email
The Counseling Center staff has a very high level and concern for and respect towards the confidentiality of individuals receiving services from this office. Staff collect, record and store client information only as needed for the effective and legal provision of services. All information is considered privileged and is maintained as confidential, consistent with ethical guidelines as well as Washington and Federal statutes. The services of the Counseling Center are separate from any other student records kept at Whitman College. Information revealed in counseling sessions will remain confidential, except in cases of imminent danger to the client or another or where otherwise is mandated by law, or when permission is granted to release information.
Client records are secured in locked files and/or secured electronic files and accessed only by authorized personnel. Records are destroyed after seven years following the last client contact. Clients have the right to inspect and receive copies of their records; however, access to these records by the person receiving counseling may be restricted by the treating mental health professional during the course of treatment.
Release of Client Records
Individual client information may be released outside of the Counseling Center under the following circumstances:
- With Informed Consent: A client may request that specific information be sent to another entity. Prior to the disclosure, the client must sign a “Consent for Release of Information.” Information unrelated to treatment will not be released.
- Without Informed Consent: Client information may be released without consent in the following situation:
- When there is clear and imminent danger of harm to yourself or another person. In these circumstances, we are legally required to take action to protect life. Thus, our actions may include arranging for voluntary or involuntary hospitalization, as well as notifying law enforcement authorities and/or family/friends/individuals at risk.
- When a situation otherwise must be reported by law.
- Washington State law states that the parents and/or spouse of a deceased patient has the right to access of their deceased child’s or spouse’s health care records.
Due to the non-secure nature of email, the confidentiality of such communication cannot be ensured. Also, please note that staff members may not check email with regularity or frequency, and may not access email outside of Counseling Center hours. Therefore, be advised that your communication with the Counseling Center or your counselor may not receive a timely response if a response is indicated. Please use discretion when sending information that is sensitive in nature and in the event of an emergency, do not rely on email – contact 911, security at 527-5777 or the health center. For the most timely and confidential communication, please call the Counseling Center directly during business hours at 527-5195.