I will mention confidentiality to you in our first session and encourage you to ask any questions you might have about how this works in practice. The rest of this document describes how I collect, store, and use your personal information.
Every client file is held securely and can only be accessed by me and my admin assistant who has signed a confidentiality agreement. It contains:
- contact information (eg: name, address, phone numbers, details of your GP)
- billing information (eg: medicare number, health fund details, invoices)
- information about each of your appointments (eg: session notes, assessment results)
- other information relevant to the services being provided to you (eg: letters, referrals).
Purpose of holding your personal information
I gather this information so I can provide you professional psychological services. Your notes are mainly to remind me about how previous sessions. From time to time, and at your first appointment if you are seeing me using a mental health care plan set up by your doctor, I may need to collect other information and administer assessments designed to help identify and address the issues that have led you to seek psychological support.
When you see a psychologist, the information we collect remains confidential. Psychologists are bound by a strict code of ethics and we take seriously our responsibility to safeguard every client’s personal information. A general rule might be: “what gets discussed in the room, usually stays in the room”, but it is important to remember there are limits to confidentiality. This include situations where personal information can potentially be disclosed without your knowledge or permission.
Your personal information may be disclosed to a third party when:
- you give us express consent and authority to do so
- the information is subject to mandatory reporting obligations (child protection)
- your psychologist is concerned about an immediate and specific risk to the safety of you or someone else and that risk can only be averted by disclosing information
- it is subpoenaed by a court or for other legal purposes, eg workcover investigations
- you see us under a Mental Health Care Plan, because Medicare requires psychologists to report information about diagnosis, treatment, and progress to the GP or psychiatrist who referred you
- your psychologist discusses your case during supervision (all psychologists are required to regularly seek input from other psychologists about how best to treat their clients. Usually this can be done without disclosing who you are).
Requesting access to your personal information
You can ask to access information kept on file about you. During a session, you may look at and make notes about the information being recorded and can discuss this information with your psychologist. If you think there are any statements of fact that are incorrect, you can ask for this to be reflected in the notes.
If you are no longer seeing your psychologist, or want to get a copy of the information I hold about you, then you will need to make a more formal request for access. This will attract a fee.
Requests should be made in writing to me, stating what information you are seeking to access. Your request will be acknowledged in 14 working days and I will give you an indication of the likely cost to process your request. Your request will be processed in 30 working days and I may arrange an appointment to clarify the information when I provide it to you. The National Privacy Principles set out reasons why access to your own personal information can be denied. If I do this, I will explain our reasons for that.
Questions or concerns?
If you have any questions about privacy and the collection of personal information about you, please feel free to raise them with me at any time.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency governs standards which all health professionals must abide by. All members of the public have a right to quality, professional health services and all health professionals in Australia are registered to ensure they uphold the highest standards of client care.