Counseling is a collaborative process that involves the sharing of sensitive, personal, and private information by clients with their counselors. Psychological Counseling Center (PCC) staff recognize and respect this counseling relationship, and maintain client counseling information in a secure and confidential manner. PCC client counseling information is confidential within the Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics, American Mental Health Counselors Association Code of Ethics, American Psychological Association Ethical Standards, American Psychiatric Association Ethical Standards, and the National, New York State, and SUNY legal guidelines.
These standards and guidelines include the following: student visits to the PCC and client counseling information do not become part of any other University record, the PCC does not release counseling information without the client's consent, and PCC staff neither confirm nor deny whether a student has been seen at the PCC.
There are three exceptions where confidentiality might be waived without a consent: 1) client is an immediate danger to self or others (i.e. suicide or homicide); 2) there is suspected child or elder abuse, neglect or maltreatment; 3) in legal cases, information may be subpoenaed by the court.
There have been occasions when friends, family, faculty, or staff have referred a student to the PCC and wanted a follow-up contact from the PCC counselor to confirm that the student came for an appointment. As noted above, PCC counselors are bound by legal and ethical guidelines to maintain confidentiality. Thus, friends, family, faculty, and staff should be aware that PCC counselors cannot discuss whether a student is coming for services without the student's consent.
Consent to Release Information
If a student wishes to have their PCC counselor consult or collaborate with a family member, campus department, off-campus provider, or other specified individual, they are welcome to sign a “Consent for the Release of Confidential Information” form, which outlines the parameters of the information to be provided.
Students Under Age 18
Students under the age of 18 may be seen for one initial interview (crisis session or intake) at the PCC without parental/guardian consent (per New York State Mental Hygiene Law 33.21). The PCC will need to obtain written consent from the student’s parent/guardian(s) for further treatment, with a few exceptions for extenuating circumstances. Psychiatric treatment for students under 18 also requires parental/guardian consent.
In PCC-facilitated group therapy, members are asked to abide by respectful and responsible standards of privacy. New Paltz students have been considerate of others' participation in our groups, have appreciated the support of fellow students with similar concerns, and have maintained the PCC group facilitator's request to "keep what's discussed in the group in the room."