Often the success or failure of any professional relationship depends on trust. This is especially true for counseling and psychotherapy. In order to facilitate that trust, the staff of the Student Counseling Services maintains strict confidentiality as required by professional ethics and state and federal law.
Essentially what this means is that all clinical contacts between students and the Student Counseling Services are privileged and confidential. The staff will not, except in rare specific instances, divulge the contents of a student's treatment, present or past, or even if a student has had an appointment with the Student Counseling Services to anyone: professor, dean, administrator, another student, family member, etc. The treatment records of the Student Counseling Services are not linked to or part of any other college record or chart.
There are some exceptions to confidentiality. If the student gives the staff written permission to divulge information to a specific person or persons, then the staff could release minimal information. For example, at times it might be to a student's advantage to allow the staff of the Student Counseling Services to coordinate treatment with other areas of the College, or to speak with other clinicians. In those instances the staff will only divulge as much information as is necessary or called for.
The staff might also breach confidentiality if the counselor believes that someone's life or safety might be in danger (including the student in treatment), or if there is a suspicion of some child or elder abuse occurring. Even in those rare instances, the staff will only give enough information to assure the physical safety of everyone involved.
In addition, the staff must disclose records if ordered to do so by a court. In these quite unlikely situations, the staff will only reveal the least amount of information in redacted form if possible.
The staff consults with other students, faculty, staff and parents if they have concerns about the behavior or well being of a particular student. If that student is being seen or has been seen in the Student Counseling Services, however, the staff cannot and will not disclose any clinical information about the student. The staff member will listen to the concerns of the person consulting the service (student, staff, faculty or family member) and try to address his/her concerns in a general way. The staff might suggest ways to communicate with the student in question or suggest other sources of outreach or support.