Confidentiality, privacy, & discretion
Updated: Nov 5, 2019
So first off, it looks like it strikes me to write a blog once a year! I noticed Oct 15 looked good in 2018 too. Anyhow, this entry is about confidentiality since it has been a recurring theme with many of my clients.
Confidentiality is basically what you can and should expect in a counseling or therapy setting, or any healthcare setting for that matter. It relates to how your service provision is managed, how your information is handled, how billing is completed, and how your record is kept. HIPAA sets the standard:
But what about more than just confidentiality? What else can be considered to give a totally private or discreet experience?
Things I think about are:
1) What if somebody sees my car in a dedicated parking lot for a private practice?
2) If my insurance is billed, can my employer know?
3) What if I’m seeking help with a therapist but am dealing with court issues like a divorce or custody issues? What can be subpoenaed?
4) I want help but I’m afraid to risk my security clearance. Maintaining that clearance is part of my livelihood.
5) What if I see somebody I know in the waiting room, or, what if somebody I know glances inside and sees me?
6) If I have to pay with a credit card, won’t my financial record reveal that I’m seeking therapy?
Like I mentioned, I’ve thought about this all before! Here are my general responses:
1) As a practice located within a church there is street parking, nearby parking options, and more “private parking” can be made available upon request.
2) Wavecrest simply does not bill insurance, so that concern is moot.
3) One of the things I say to my clients is, “I can not exist.” What I mean by that is that I have -zero- reason to let anyone know, for any reason, what our relationship is or that it even exists. You, or the client, has total control over who is aware that you are getting services with me, or at all. If you do, however, decide to inform a third party any information with require a signed Release of Information which can be limited to certain dates or certain types of information. Please feel free to discuss this with me further if you have any concerns.
4) Same as number 3. By working with me, you are in control of who knows what!
5) As the practice is located within a church, no definitive meaning can be assigned to your presence there, unlike if you were in a waiting room for a therapy practice. That said, blinds are used, and the location is in a residential area of minimal traffic. The waiting area is optional for use, and there are several entrances that can be utilized upon request. Some folks opt to wait in their vehicles until it is time for a session to begin. It’s up to you!
6) While Wavecrest does accept credit cards, the use is optional. Billing will be attributed to the Fellowship of the Inner Light, as Wavecrest is a ministry of the Fellowship. Cash is also accepted, no paper trail there!
Please do be aware I am a mandated reporter as well as being held to a “duty to protect.” I would encourage anyone with questions about what that means to review Virginia code. You can also ask me questions about this at our first session. Clients are encouraged to review the Client Agreement, a prerequisite to treatment at Wavecrest.