What is our policy regarding confidentiality?
Students frequently ask the following questions about confidentiality:
- What if a professor calls to find out if a student has sought counseling?
- What if a parent calls wanting to know if their son or daughter is getting help?
- What if a future employer wants to know if a BCTC graduate has ever received counseling?
Counseling faculty take its policy on confidentiality extremely seriously. No matter who calls seeking information about students or alumni, the answer is always something like this: "We are not allowed to disclose any information about students without a written release of information from that student. Therefore, we are not even able to tell you whether a person has ever sought services here."
That means that students can seek counseling services at Counseling Services and rest assured that no one will know their business unless the student gives his or her permission for the counselor to release information. There are only three exceptions to this policy:
- The first involves safety: If a student discloses to a counselor that he or she feels like they can not prevent themselves from killing or seriously harming themselves or another person, the counselor may need to break confidentiality. That doesn't mean that students can't talk about suicidal or rageful feelings. Lots of students go through times when they feel this way. It's just that if a person feels these things to such extremes that they can't control themselves from carrying it out, their counselor may need to break confidentiality to protect a person from harm.
- Another exception to the policy is when the student tells the counselor about someone being abused who is either under 18, over 65, or disabled. In these cases, the counselor is mandated by law to disclose that information to the Kentucky Department of Social Services. The reason for this is to make sure that people who can not protect themselves are being protected by the law and by state services.
- The final exception to the policy is when a judge forces a counselor to turn over records to a court of law. This is very rare and only occurs when students are involved in some sort of legal proceedings such as custody cases and law suits.
Our policy about confidentiality is based on state law and the ethics of the counseling profession. We believe strongly that students should be aware of how these policies work before they begin counseling. This is known as a client's informed consent. Counselors talk with students about these and other related issues in their first session.