The details may be boring, but it is important for you to know how your information will be managed as we work together
In my different roles of Therapist, Child Specialist and Co-Parent coach, I have different ways of sharing or keeping content of our work confidential. When I work as a Child Specialist or a Coach, I obtain your written permission to vary from the typical privacy practices of therapy. However, across all my roles, I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and I am bound to the ethical and legal responsibilities of my license in reporting threats to safety.
Counseling and The Law Regarding Confidentiality
The law protects the relationship between a client and a psychotherapist, and information cannot be disclosed without written permission. Exceptions Include:
Suspected child abuse or dependent adult or elder abuse, for which I am required by law to report this to the appropriate authorities immediately.
If a client is threatening serious bodily harm to another person/s, I must notify the police and inform the intended victim.
If a client intends to harm himself or herself, I will make every effort to enlist their cooperation in insuring their safety. If they do not cooperate, I will take further measures without their permission that are provided to me by law in order to ensure their safety.
When seeing me for therapy services, your information is private, unless you give written permission to share with another person(s) or unless there is a threat to safety as described in the exceptions listed above.
Child and Adolescent Therapy
When children are in therapy the rules vary. If a child is under 13, their parents or legal guardians have access to the information disclosed. Usually there is a great deal of care and therapeutic intuition to allow children the space to share, but legally parents "own" the confidentiality of minors under 13. This means both parents have equal access to the information, regardless of a child's or the other parent's preferences.
Children over 13 hold the right to confidentiality, even from parents and children over 13 must agree and sign to release confidentiality to parents or any other person(s). Children over 13 however have confidentiality similar to adults. There is some ambiguity in the law however that allows parents to be informed in there is a significant safety concern so that their child or others may be protected from harm. When working with children I let them know if I am concerned for their safety I will make every effort to discuss needing to disclose before speaking with parents, unless doing so may put them at further risk. For both under and
over 13, the exceptions of the law regarding threats to safety and reporting as in all cases, continues to apply to all child and adolescent therapy
Child Specialist and Coaching Services
Child specialist and Coparent Coaching both have specific rules for confidentiality that will be described in detail by the respective contracts. In general, the policies are are designed to maintain safety from the threat of information being used in ways that was not intended and agreed upon by both parties. Both parents "own" confidentiality which cannot be waived without the consent of the other. Children's information is also handled is differently than in therapy as children are not being treated for mental health and instead are offering information intended to support the parent's divorce process. Whether you are or are not participating in a Collaborative process, my Child Specialist and Coparent Coaching services retain the framework and safeguards of Collaborative Law. The contracts for each of the services will explain in detail the agreements of service, however the following is intended for you to have an advance understanding of the agreements:
Divorce Child Specialist/Collaborative Divorce Child Specialist/Coparent Coaching
When acting as a Child Specialist, I do not hold important information confidential between parenting partners. Important is defined as information that threatens my ability to be or be perceived as a neutral professional in my work with your family. I ask that parenting partners are cc'd on all emails and while I may request individual conversations in person or by phone, that they are done with understood purpose, transparency and agreement by both parties.
When acting as a Child Specialist and assessing children's coping in divorce, unlike therapy, I do not hold children's information confidential. I disclose information gathered to parents for the purpose of assisting them in meeting children's needs. however I do ask for your child's permission to disclose any or specific information at the end of the assessment.
I do not share information to any other person(s) regarding Child Specialist services unless both parties give their written agreement to share such information and that I do not believe there to be a professional rationale that would contraindicate sharing on the parents, family or their children.
Additional Confidentiality Agreement for Collaborative Divorce Child Specialist
If you are in the Collaborative Divorce process and I am part of your Collaborative team, I will sign the Collaborative Participation Agreement provided by your attorneys. I will abide by the participation agreement and my role as a Collaborative professional team member.
Policy Regarding Court Testimony/Subpoenas
As a Collaborative professional it is my policy to refrain from involvement in divorce litigation, which includes testifying or having client records subpoenaed for the purposes of divorce proceedings. My belief is that mental health and coaching services for parents and children should be confidential and free from possible legal infringement- unless all parties desire information be disclosed for a mutually agreed upon purpose and if I can assess the benefits of doing so are greater than the potential risk to any minor children involved. If however it is found I am legally bound to subpoena I will fulfill my legal responsibility. In that case I will limit my testimony to only what is contained in the client's chart such as dates of service, documented services, etc. If I am required to provide documents or testify in court my fees are as follows:
Preparation of documents, telephone calls, emails, consultations with legal support: $180.00 per hour
In person testimony, travel to and from venue: $180.00 per hour, billed to the nearest .25 hour
If scheduled outside of my office hours, including planned vacation and additional: $180 per hour will be billed for that time.