Confidentiality

Confidentiality, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and You

Confidentiality is vital to the practice of counseling and psychotherapy.  Safety is engendered when what you say is private between you and your counselor and/or psychotherapist.  Without safety, the environment in which you share your thoughts and feelings to process and work through the challenges you face is compromised.

Sometimes, under very specific circumstances, there will be exceptions. What you talk about and everything you say in therapy is private and confidential except under these certain circumstances.  What is protected by law is, in general, who you are, your name and your demographics and all data associated with your past, present and future health PLUS more. What is not protected are certain exceptions which is also written in the same law. Read on for more info.

Your protected health information and the exceptions to it are clearly established at the state and federal level under what’s called the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule.  All healthcare providers are subject to it, not just your counselor and/or psychotherapist.  It is very detailed info that you can read directly from the state and federal sources which are found at these links:

State of Maryland:

Department of Health and Human Services:

What’s written here on this website page is for general informational purposes only. The content on this page is not meant to replace the information found at the State of Maryland and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), consequently the information on this page may not be complete.  

Keep in mind that if you decide to enter into counseling and therapy,  you will be given detailed information concerning the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule and the topic of confidentiality by your counselor and/or psychotherapist.  

In brief, here are the exceptions to your confidential information:

  • when a client in writing asks their counselor and/or psychotherapist to share information from a session or sessions. When needed, a release form is signed by the client authorizing any communication between the counselor and the client.
  • when a client shares information that there is a threat to harm themselves.
  • when a client shares information that there is a threat to harm another person whether that be an adult, child, elder or vulnerable person
  • when a court of law orders it
  • when you share your own therapy information to a medical provider in a medical emergency
  • when involved in research, audit or an evaluation of a program

There’s a lot more information about this topic. This is not meant to be comprehensive and as a result may be incomplete.  It is important for you to know your rights as a client and/or patient when it comes to your health and the healthcare providers that you work.  Knowledge is vital and empowering. Kindly read this information directly from the State of Maryland and Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) websites for the most up-to-date information.  There you’ll find resources and detailed info to help you understand your rights as a client and/or patient.

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