While it is certainly possible that someone might seek a psychological evaluation purely for his or her own information because of curiosity and interest in personal growth, usually this is not the case. The function of a psychological evaluation is to be a communication tool. Most people pursue a psychological evaluation as a means of gathering data, formulating an idea about how to understand a referral question, and developing recommendations about how to work toward achieving some specific goal. This report is then shared with treatment providers to put the plans into action. As a consequence, you can expect that all of the information that you share with me, is likely to make its way into the psychological report if it contributes to the formulation. You own the report, and you get to decide who sees it, with some specific limitations as noted below.
Under New York State Law, parents are legally entitled to all medical records for a minor child. I cannot withhold them even if the child or another parent requests that I do so. The only exceptions would be if a child is emancipated, married, or themselves a parent, at which point that minor is considered an adult by the state for the purposes of medical consent and has control of his or her own records.
After the age of 18 or under the circumstances outlined above, everyone controls his or her own medical records, even if the assessment is paid for by another adult, such as a parent. I cannot release the evaluation results to the parent without the client’s written consent.
I am bound by federal law (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA) and the ethical standards of my profession to maintain the confidentiality of psychological records. I fully comply with those laws and standards. All treatment records are completely confidential to the full extent allowed by law. I will not disclose or discuss information gained as part of our professional relationship, including the fact that you have made an appointment with me, under any circumstances except where specifically directed by law or authorized by you. The following are legal exceptions to confidentiality in NY State:
- Reports or suspicions of current or past child abuse or neglect must be reported the the NY State Central Registry for all children under the age of 18.
- As per the NY Safe Act (3/16/13), mental health professionals currently providing treatment services must make a report to authorities “if they conclude, using reasonable professional judgment, that the individual is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others.”
- Records can be subpoenaed by a judge if you are involved in any court proceedings, the court finds out that you have been seen by me, and they want to review the records. This can happen even if the court proceedings are unrelated to your reason for seeking an evaluation with me. (For example, a judge could make such an order if you were being sued or getting a divorce.) Your lawyer can advise you about how to proceed if this should become relevant to you.
- Third party payers (insurance companies) may request records before paying for an assessment. (I do not participate with third party payers, and will not release records to them unless I have written authorization from you to do so.)
If I were legally required to make a report, I would disclose to you that a report had been made.
Please see information on your rights and my responsibilities according to HIPAA here.
I engage the services of other companies to run my business including an e-mail provider and a practice management software tool, which includes a credit card processing component. I have contracts with these companies to reflect that their business practices are compliant with HIPAA.
On very rare occasions, I may consult with other psychologists about my own practice, to make sure that I am providing the best possible service. If this were to be the case, I would not reveal any identifying information. In any case, the psychologists with whom I consult would also be bound by the HIPAA Privacy Practices.
Please talk with me if you have thoughts, concerns or questions about confidentiality.