Privacy Matters

I take my clients’ confidentiality very seriously. Confidentiality is the foundation for the therapeutic relationship–without it, nothing else works. So I’ve included this page to help you better understand the basics of confidentiality and privacy in a Web 2.0 world. If you have more questions about confidentiality or social media privacy, I’d be happy to answer them by phone or in the office.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is the legal right of your health care privacy. In simple terms, it means that what you say to me within the context of our therapy is private. I don’t talk with others about what I hear from you, unless you have given me permission in writing to do so. I don’t even answer questions about whether or not you are attending therapy unless you have given me written permission to do so.

One common reason people give me written permission to share some of their therapeutic information is to take advantage of their health insurance benefits. Insurance companies will request identifying and diagnostic information as a condition of providing benefits. If you wish to use insurance coverage, I will ask for permission to release that information. If you wish to fully protect your health information, you may choose to pay out of pocket.

Because confidentiality is a legal right, there are some situations that change your privacy:

  • Safety is an even higher responsibility than confidentiality. Because of this:
    • If you are upset enough that you are actively planning to harm yourself, I am legally required to work with you to make a safety plan, and to enlist whatever outside help is needed to be sure that the safety plan is followed.
    • If you are angry enough that you are actively planning to harm someone else, I am required to notify both that person and the authorities.
  • I am a mandated reporter. That means that, if you share information with me about abuse of a child or an elderly person that is happening right now, I am legally required to hotline that information.

Email Policy

My email address is: ann@healthybalancedlife.com

Clients are welcome to email me with scheduling questions or other concerns. Because the privacy of email cannot be guaranteed, I encourage clients to consider other methods for communicating sensitive information. I do return phone calls as promptly as possible. Because I may not see an email notification promptly, please do not use email to notify me of an emergency. If you are in crisis, please call my emergency answering service at 913-967-1131. If you have a medical emergency, please to to a hospital or call 911.

I frequently come across information that may be pertinent to a particular client’s issues. Clients are welcome to provide me an email address with permission to contact them, and I will send links to useful information as I come across it. This information is not intended to be diagnostic or as treatment, but simply as an educational adjunct to the therapy process.

Social Media Policy

Because I want to share resources and helpful mental health information with as many people as possible, I do maintain a business page on Facebook. This is a public page, without any of the privacy settings that are available to individuals. I use this page to share resources, and answer questions if they are appropriate for a public forum. Clients may browse this page without “liking” it. However, if you choose to “like” the page, please make sure that you are fully aware of the level of sharing and privacy that you have enabled on Facebook. The settings for the page include a publicly visible list of those who have “liked” it. I do not “friend” clients on Facebook because I believe that puts us at risk of forming a dual-role relationship, which is not helpful for my clients and is prohibited by my ethical guidelines.

While I use the Facebook page primarily to share information, I also maintain both a Twitter account and a LinkedIn profile. These tools provide me outlets to share information, and a way for me to network with professional colleagues. My Twitter account is a publicly shared account, so anything posted on my Twitter feed is public information. I do not answer questions via Twitter because of its public status. Please use email or telephone for questions. I do not follow clients on Twitter, and I don’t encourage clients to follow me, although if you choose to do so, be aware that the account is public, and your name would be listed in my “Followers” list. I do not connect with clients through my LinkedIn profile, because that is also a public forum.

My primary concern is that my clients’ privacy be as protected as possible. Any connection through social media presents a possible compromise of that privacy, so I do not encourage clients to do so.

Please contact me directly with any questions or concerns.

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