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Confidentiality & Client Rights


As privacy and trust are very important between a client and clinician, with limited exceptions, information discussed or recorded is confidential.  Ordinarily you will be asked to give authorization in writing if information is to be provided to third parties.  However, by entering consultation or therapy with Dr Zuessman and signing consent for treatment, you are agreeing to the waiver of confidentiality in the following circumstances:

1. protected health information used to provide treatment, operate service, and for account activities;

2. de-identified information that is shared during the clinician’s own clinical supervision or peer review;

3. disclosure of information to relevant persons or authorities if there is:

    i)   potential of serious physical danger to yourself or someone else,

    ii)  risk of child abuse,

    iii) information legitimately subpoenaed by a court or otherwise authorized for release by law;

4. information disclosed in the context of relationship/family therapy even if occurring in an individual session (so that the therapist is not in a position of keeping secrets from others in the client unit who are also involved in therapy);

5. disclosure of information to the Department of Health Professions when there is a reasonable probability that another licensed mental health service provider in Virginia may have engaged in professional misconduct.

While effort to preserve a client’s privacy is made, it is important to note that clients hold the rights to the legally privileged communication and disclosures made to the clinician.  You are encouraged to discuss your concerns about confidentiality when you begin receiving consultative services and at any other time.

Rights & Records

As a client you have the right to:  be treated with respect; a clear explanation of the service you receive; consent prior to a service commencing and as it progresses; an explanation about the limits of confidentiality; competent and professional service; clear statements about fees; clarity regarding the issues upon which you and the clinician are working; an estimate regarding the timeframe anticipated for consultation; service free from sexual harassment; and respect for your cultural background and language tradition.

If you have any concerns or if difficulties arise in any service you receive, it is your responsibility to first discuss them with the Dr Zuessman.  If, for some reason, your concerns are not resolved to your satisfaction, you may also lodge a complaint with:  the Virginia Department of Health Professions and the Board of Psychology or the Board of Counseling .

In keeping with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act 1996 information privacy principles are observed.  As part of providing a clinical service there is a need to collect and record protected health information that is relevant to assessment, diagnosis and treatment.  You do not have to provide all the personal information which is requested, but if you do not it may mean that the clinical service may not be able to be provided.  Protected health information may be used to provide treatment, to operate the service, and for account activities such as determining eligibility for health benefits, submission of claims, and communicating with your health plan/insurance.  If you wish to complain about the handling of protected health information, you can complain to the United States Secretary of Health and Human Services.

If you consider that your rights have been violated you can contact the US Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights at  .

Client information is accessible only to authorized persons.  Information is retained in order to document the course of service, and to enable a relevant and informed clinical services to be provided.  In keeping with best practice, files are retained for a period of 5 years from the time of last service or, in the case of a minor, from the date the child reaches the age of 18, after which files may be destroyed.

Files are the property of Counseling Consultation / Dr Zuessman though you may request to view your file.  If there are no contraindications, a consultation appointment can be arranged to enable you to view your file in the presence of Dr Zuessman.  Should you believe that any personal factual information is not accurate, you can request that amendments be added to the file.  You can request that a copy of your file be provided to an appropriately licensed mental health or medical professional.