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CONFIDENTIALITY POLICY

The Counseling & Testing Center staff has a very high level of concern 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 provision of direct services. All information is considered privileged and is maintained as confidential, consistent with ethical guidelines and Wisconsin Statutes (Chapters 19, 48, and 51). Counseling records, tests, and related information do not become a part of an official university record.

Email Communication
Due to the non-secure nature of e-mail, the confidentiality of such communications cannot be ensured. Please use discretion when sending information that is sensitive in nature. Also, please note that the staff does not maintain 24-hour access to e-mail accounts.  Emergency and after hours crisis information can be found at www.uwlax.edu/counseling/emergency.htm

Client Records
Client records are maintained to provide services to the individual student client. Demographic information and presenting concerns are collected on a "Personal Information Form" completed by the client. Typical forms used during the counseling process are the "Comprehensive Service Record", "Informed Consent", "Intake Assessment", "Progress Case Notes", and "Case Closing Form." Additional forms and/or correspondence may be developed in conjunction with the counseling process. Counseling records do not include notes maintained for personal use by an individual providing services.

Client records are routinely secured in locked files and are destroyed 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 Director during the course of treatment. Records are reviewed in the presence of the staff member who developed the records and/or the Director.

For training and supervision, some clients may be asked for permission to observe and/or record (audio or videotape) the counseling sessions. Such observations and recordings will only be conducted after the client has been fully informed and has freely provided written consent.

Release of Client Information
Information on clientele demographics and presenting concerns are only reported anonymously and in general summaries. Individual client information may be released outside of the Counseling and Testing Center under the following circumstances.

With Informed Consent
A client may request that specific information be sent to another individual. Psychological test data may be released, as appropriate, to another professional. Prior to a disclosure, the client must sign a "Consent for Release of Information". Information is not released for reasons unrelated to treatment, including security clearance investigations, job screening applications, etc.

Without Client Consent
Client information may be released without consent in the following situations.
  1. When the behavior of a client is considered a "danger to self", the Counseling and Testing Center staff may disclose information to intervene in this situation. Only relevant information is shared with individuals (e.g. university staff, family, law enforcement authorities) to complete an intervention.

  2. When the behavior of a client is considered a "danger to others" it is the Counseling and Testing Center staff’s responsibility to warn/protect a potential victim(s) of the danger. Again, only relevant information is disclosed to the appropriate individuals.

  3. Counseling and Testing Center staff may release client records and serve as witnesses in response to a court ordered subpoena or search warrant.

  4. In compliance with Wisconsin Statutes, Counseling and Testing Center staff must report allegations of child abuse or neglect. Such reports are limited to allegations occurring with individuals under 18 years of age. Allegations of abuse to a "vulnerable adult" may also be reported.

When a staff member determines the need to release information without client consent, he/she will notify and consult with the Director as soon as possible. In some emergency situations the staff member may need to disclose the information without prior consultation.

Any questions or clarification of these policies should be directed to the appropriate staff member and/or the Director of the Counseling and Testing Center.