Counseling Services Records Policy
How to Obtain Counseling Records
Download and complete an Authorization for Disclosure of Protected Health Information form (pdf - 29.98 KB). Complete sections 1,2,3,4,6 & 9. Mail, fax or return the form in person to Health and Counseling Services. Our contact information is as follows: 217 Crawford Building, Rock Hill, SC 29733, secure fax: 803/323-3332. Health and Counseling Services implements a reasonable charge for making copies of any clinical record or other document. Charges will not exceed amounts authorized by Section 44-115-80 of the South Carolina Codes, The South Carolina Physician's Patient Records Act.
Confidentiality of Counseling Records
Counseling records are protected by state and federal confidentiality regulations as well as the ethical standards of the American Psychological Association and the American Counseling Association. Exceptions to confidentiality can occur only under certain circumstances. These exceptions include serious immediate threat to your life or welfare or to the life or welfare of another person, including child abuse or imminent danger to the community at large. No one outside Health and Counseling Services staff may have access to your records and no one outside Health and Counseling Services may be given information without your written consent. Access by medical personnel in Health Services is limited to those who have legitimate need to know.
Under Section 19-11-95 of the South Carolina Code, counseling records are available for your review with your therapist. This law outlines a protected relationship between licensed mental health professionals and clients. This privileged relationship means that clinicians may not reveal or be compelled by law to reveal any communication, observation, test result or other information gained as a result of the treatment relationship. Information conveyed to staff in Counseling Services by someone other than clients is not considered confidential and may be shared. Privileged communication between client and therapist may be waived by a judge in child custody or adoption cases, in law suits where mental condition is an important consideration, and in criminal law suits.
Counseling Records Storage and Maintenance
Although Counseling Services has transitioned to Electronic Health Records, some past Counseling Records are stored in paper format under double lock. In accordance with South Carolina state law, these paper Counseling Records are maintained for a period of at least five years after the last date that service was rendered to the client, unless otherwise required by law. After that time, charts are destroyed in a manner that assures their confidentiality.
Statements in this policy do not prohibit Counseling Services staff from releasing limited information to specified university personnel, community members, family members, or other identified individuals as requested in writing by a client. Such a request may assist in communication with a referral source, continuity of care, or in other matters that may facilitate the treatment of the client.
Request for Counseling Records
It is the policy of Counseling Services that confidential client records may be released only to a licensed or certified mental health professional (e.g. psychologist, psychiatrist, psychiatric nurse, counselor, or social worker) with the client’s signed permission. In most occasions, the counselor of record will provide the mental health professional with a summary of the client record unless otherwise requested. The client record is the property of Counseling Services rather than the client. If a student wants access to his/her file, it must be reviewed in the presence of the counselor of record or his/her designee. This should be done by appointment, and in a Counseling Services office. Test data, profiles, and symptom checklists are not made accessible to preserve test integrity. An interpretation of test data must be made by a qualified professional. If a counselor believes that access to the records would be harmful to the student’s mental, physical, or emotional health, access may be denied to portions or even the whole file. If the counselor believes that access to files could lead to the harm of others, access may be denied. A request for a release of records must be processed through the counselor of record or his/her designee, who must process and make decisions about release of files. Office staff cannot make such a release. As such, the turnaround period for the release of records may take up to one week.
When requests for records are received from insurance companies, military personnel, or security clearance personnel (e.g. FBI, CIA), we will only release a file to a licensed mental health professional, with written permission from the client. With written permission, we will release information that the student attended counseling and the number of sessions attended. We will not make recommendations on a client’s suitability for service or security clearance. When we see students as clients, we see them for treatment. We are not seeing them for assessment or evaluation to make decisions about their suitability for jobs. Such evaluations require different techniques and skills. We will require a direct contact with the client in addition to the written permission before verifying attendance to therapy.