Confidentiality is an ethical standard that protects clients from disclosure or information without their consent. Client contacts with Counseling Services are confidential. We will not answer questions about clients from friends, partners, faculty, parents, employers, or anyone else outside the Counseling Services staff. Counseling Services staff meet as needed to discuss crisis cases and to support each other in assisting all clients.
Counseling Services will release information from counseling sessions to outside parties only at the request of the client. The "Authorization to Release Information" form signed by the client and a witness will be used for that purpose. The client must provide informed consent and the counselor will discuss, prior to release, the information to be released, to whom, and for what purposes. The client will also be advised about the possible effect of disclosure.
There are two exceptions to the confidentiality policy: (1) when a client poses a clear and present danger of harm to himself/herself or others, all parties must be informed and (2) we are required by Alabama law to immediately report to the Department of Human Resources when we have reasonable cause to suspect that a child (a person under 18 years of age) or the elderly have been subjected to abuse, sexual abuse, or neglect.
According to Alabama state law, the counselor-client relationship does not have privileged communication. Clients can have their confidential communications disclosed in court without their permission. Should an attempt be made to subpoena counseling records, we will consult our legal counsel before taking any action. If at all possible, the client will be notified in advance of any compliance with a court order.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (Buckley Amendment) states the student counseling progress notes maintained by counselors are not classified as "education records". Client notes do not become part of any "permanent record" at JSU.