Confidentiality

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Confidentiality

Counseling Services is committed to maintaining the confidentiality of your counseling appointments. Information about your appointments cannot be disclosed to others without your written consent and are not a part of your academic record. There are some exceptions to confidentiality, typically involving a necessity to protect you or someone else from imminent danger, or if served with a court order for specific information. If you have any questions or concerns about Counseling Services’ confidentiality policies, please contact the Director at 786-3603.

Practices that Protect Student Clients’ Confidential Mental Healthcare Information and Privacy

It is the philosophy of Columbia College Counseling Services that one of the basic rights of clients in treatment is the right to confidentiality. Confidentiality is an ethic that prevents unauthorized disclosures about clients, including their names and their care, without the client’s expressed written permission, except in cases of suspected child abuse or neglect, abuse or neglect of an elderly or disabled adult, suspected serious threat to self or others, or by court order.

  • All student client files are clearly marked “Confidential” and housed in the Director of Counseling Services’ locked office, within a locked closet, file or desk. The key to the office is not on the general lock system.
  • The Director’s Administrative Assistant and all student workers in the office are trained in the proper handling of confidential issues such as identity, visits, telephone calls, etc. All sign a “Confidentiality Statement” agreeing to comply with principals of confidentiality.
  • Other than the Counselor, only the Administrative Assistant has access to student client data (not progress notes), and for the sole purpose of data gathering at the request of the Director.
  • E-mail is not considered a secure form of communication; therefore, confidentiality cannot be guaranteed in an e-mail message.  Please be aware that e-mail accounts may only be checked infrequently and not at all on weekends or holidays. Any clinical information sent over email will be discussed with the student in person or over the phone; that information becomes part of the clinical record.
  • If a student client requests that confidential information be released to/obtained from a third party, an “Authorization to Release or Obtain Confidential Information” form. This form includes an explanation of the requirements of the South Carolina Code that protects confidential mental health information.  By contacting the Counselor, the student client may revoke her permission to release confidential mental health information at any time.
  • When Counseling Services receives a request for a student’s confidential mental health information, the student will be notified about the request.
  • At intake, a student client is provided information that states the student’s rights with respect to uses and releases of confidential mental healthcare information.
  • At intake, a student client is provided with this “Protection of Confidentiality” information.
  • Counseling Services will provide any person with a copy of this “Protection of Confidentiality” information upon request.
  • Counseling Services will retain a copy and any revisions of the “Protection of Confidentiality” for at least five (5) years.
  • The Counselor may contact you to follow up on select referrals from family, faculty, staff or friends, to inform you of other services that may be of interest to you or to respond to your call, email, etc. 
  • The “Protection of Confidentiality” information is posted on Counseling Services’ webpage for access to all individuals who may seek counseling.
  • If you believe your rights to privacy have been violated, you have the right to express your concerns.  You may address your concerns to the Director of Counseling in writing or to the Dean of Students.