The law protects the privacy of all communications between a patient and a therapist. In most situations, if you are 18 years of age or older, I can only release information about your treatment to others if you sign a written authorization form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by HIPAA and Illinois law. However, there are several situations in which no authorization is required. Examples are listed below.
Consultation with other health or mental health professionals
Teaching and supervision
Malpractice suits or complaints
Judicial and administrative proceedings (e.g., if you are involved in court proceedings)
Workman’s Compensations claims
Government/Health Agency oversight
Health Insurer payment or collection on overdue fees
Therapists are mandated reporters. As such, there are some situations in which I am legally obligated to take actions in order to protect you and others from harm. If these circumstances arise in the course of your treatment, I may be required to reveal information about you or your treatment without your specific authorization. If such a situation arises, I will make every effort to fully discuss it with you before taking any action and I will limit my disclosure to what is necessary.
Exceptions to confidentiality:
If I have reasonable cause to believe that a child under 18 known to me in my professional capacity may be an abused child or a neglected child, the law requires that I report this to the local office of the Department of Children and Family Services.
If I have reason to believe that an adult over the age of 60 living in a domestic situation has been abused or neglected in the preceding 12 months, the law requires that I report this to the agency designated to receive such reports.
If I believe that you present a clear, imminent risk of serious physical or mental injury or death to yourself, I may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include seeking your hospitalization or contacting family members or others who can assist in protecting you, such as friends or the police.
If you have made a specific threat of violence against another or if I believe that you present a clear, imminent risk of serious physical harm to another, I may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking your hospitalization.
While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you about potential problems, it is important that we discuss any questions or concerns that you have now or arise in the future. The laws governing confidentiality can be complex, and I am not an attorney. In situations where specific advice is required, formal legal advice may be needed.