GENERAL COUNSELING & HIPAA POLICIES
Entering into a therapeutic relationship with a counseling professional requires an establishment of trust. When you begin therapy, you are committing your time, money and emotional energy and it is important to fully understand what that commitment will entail. Included below is a summary of the policies and processes that guide the work of this counseling practice and your work with your therapist.
When adolescents are involved in therapy, their parents may, in some circumstances, have the legal right to view records kept on their behalf. However, it is typically in the best interest of the adolescent that these records be kept private. The success of any therapy is generally dependent on a trusting and confidential relationship between therapist and client. For this reason, LHC staff will keep all records private and will not disclose the content of therapy sessions to parents except in cases where the adolescent is believed to be in significant danger. LHC staff will encourage both the adolescent and the parents to participate in family therapy sessions as needed/as appropriate to help facilitate healthy communication about the ongoing issues discussed in therapy, but this has to be at the discretion of the adolescent receiving therapy. It is critical to progress for your adolescent to feel that he or she can confide in their therapist. Please feel free to discuss this policy with your therapist at any time.
Please feel free to present any questions regarding any of the policies and processes outlined above. It is important that you clearly understand your rights and responsibilities when entering into a counseling relationship.
State law provides extremely strong privileged communication protections for conversations between your therapist and you in the context of your established professional relationship with your therapist. There is a difference between privileged conversations and documentation in your mental health records. Records are kept documenting your care as required by law, professional standards, and other review procedures. HIPAA very clearly defines what kind of information is to be included in your “designated medical record” as well as some material, known as “Psychotherapy Notes” which is not accessible to insurance companies and other third-party reviewers and in some cases, not to the patient himself/herself.
HIPAA provides privacy protections about your personal health information, which is called “protected health information” (further referred to as PHI) which could personally identify you. PHI consists of three components: treatment, payment and health care operations.
TREATMENT refers to activities in which your therapist provides, coordinates or manages your mental health care or other services related to your mental health care. Examples include a therapy session, talking to a client’s physician about medications or other medical conditions, or talking with your child’s teacher about observable behaviors in the classroom.
PAYMENT refers to the reimbursement received for providing clients with mental health care. If clients have insurance coverage, filing with the client’s insurance for payment of therapy sessions is an example of this type of sharing of PHI information.
HEALTH CARE OPERATIONS are activities related to the business and quality performance of the associated therapy practice. Insurance companies can request documentation reviews to assure the work with clients is “medically necessary.”
USE applies only to activities within the service office such as sharing, employing, applying, utilizing, examining and analyzing information that identifies you.
DISCLOSURE applies to activities outside of the service office such as releasing, transferring, or providing access to information about clients to other parties.
Delaware requires authorization and consent for treatment, payment and healthcare operations. When beginning therapy with LHC, you will sign this general consent to care and authorization to conduct payment and health care operations, authorizing LHC to provide treatment and to conduct administrative steps associated with your care. LHC may use or disclose PHI for purposes outside of treatment, payment and health care operations only when you sign an additional authorization for release of information. An “authorization” is written permission above and beyond the general consent that permits only specific disclosures that clients identify in writing. LHC will also need to obtain an authorization before releasing your psychotherapy notes. “Psychotherapy notes” are notes made about conversations during a private, group, joint, or family counseling session, which are kept separate from the rest of your medical record. These notes are given a greater degree of protection than PHI.
LHC may use or disclose PHI without client consent or authorization in the following circumstances:
III. Clients Rights and Therapist’s Duties
Forrest Watson III is the appointed “privacy officer” for this practice per HIPAA regulations. If you have any concerns of any sort that my office may have somehow compromised your privacy rights, please do not hesitate to speak with him immediately about this matter. You may reach him by phone at 302-513-9268. You will always find all vested parties at LHC willing to talk with you about preserving the privacy of your protected mental health information. You may also send a written complaint to the Secretary of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.
This notice will go into effect 7/1/2014.
I reserve the right to change the terms of this notice and to make the new notice provisions effective for all PHI that I maintain. I will provide you with a revised notice when your present at this office.