Counseling Services Policy on Confidentiality

Counseling staff will respect the privacy of clients and will, within certain limits, hold in confidence the fact that the client is involved in counseling and all information obtained in the counseling relationship. With the exceptions described below, counselors will reveal information about a client only with the informed consent of the client.

At times, the counselor needs to discuss with other professionally trained counselors the work they do with clients. The counselors will not routinely inform clients of these consultation discussions, but will do so if sharing ideas gleaned from consultation would be valuable to the counseling process. You will be asked to sign a release of information form authorizing your counselor to share information about your counseling to these professionals. If you have reservations about authorizing this release of information, you may discuss your concerns with your counselor prior to beginning counseling.

There are certain situations in which information about clients may be released without their permission. These situations are as follows:

  • When the counselor determines the disclosure is necessary to protect against a clear and imminent risk of serious harm to the client or to another person. In such cases, the information will be disclosed only to appropriate professional workers, necessary university and public authorities, a potential victim of aggression, or the client's family.
  • When the counselor determines that abuse of children or vulnerable, dependent adults is occurring. In these instances, a report must be made to the Missouri Department of Human Services.
  • When the counselor is presented with and cannot successfully contest a court order for the release of such information.
  • When the client makes a suicide attempt or requires hospitalization for psychological problems, severe substance abuse or life-threatening eating disorder, the counselor must notify the client's parents or spouse, the Dean of Students, and if the client lives in a residence hall, appropriate members of the Housing staff. Only relevant, limited and necessary information will be shared with these persons, who are always notified whenever a serious medical emergency of any kind arises with a student.

In the preceding situations, the counselor will, whenever possible, first discuss the disclosure of information with the client. The counselor will provide reasons why the disclosure is appropriate and necessary and will attempt to secure the client's permission to release information. However, should the client fail to give permission, the counselor must proceed to release the information even without the client's consent. In some emergency situations there may not be an opportunity to discuss disclosure of informations with the client before the counselor actually makes the disclosure.