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Confidentiality

Counseling is available free of charge to all degree seeking students at Hope College.

 

Counseling and Psychological Services Records 


What is a Counseling and Psychological Services record? 
After each counseling session the staff counselor writes a note about the session. This session note is kept in order to mark progress, identify trends or concerns, and can also serve as a counseling history should the student transfer to another counselor or be referred to additional services. All interactions with Counseling and Psychological Services including scheduling of appointments, attendance at appointments, content of your sessions, progress in counseling, psychological testing, and counseling session notes written by the counselor are confidential.  


How is Counseling and Psychological Services record regulated? 
Psychological records are regulated by the State of Michigan and by the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).  
In Michigan if there is evidence of clear and imminent danger of harm to self and/or others a staff counselor is legally required to report this information to the authorities responsible for ensuring safety.  
Michigan state law requires that staff of Counseling and Psychological Services who learn of, or strongly suspect, physical or sexual abuse or neglect of any person under 18 years of age must report this information to county child protection services.


A court order, issued by a judge, may require the Counseling and Psychological Services staff to release information contained in records and/or require a staff counselor to testify in a court hearing. Efforts will be made to contact and to obtain permission for the release of this information prior to compliance with the court’s request. If the student is no longer at Hope College, a letter informing the person of the request for the information will be sent to the last known permanent address listed with the college. If the student does not respond to attempts to contact them, then a decision will be made in consultation with both ethical and legal resources.


Counseling and Psychological Services records are classified as “treatment records” under FERPA and as such are excluded from the “educational records” regulation of FERPA. Counseling and Psychological Services records are kept separate from all other Hope College student records (both treatment records and educational records) and are considered to be the sole possession of the Director of Counseling and Psychological Services.  
Hope College Counseling and Psychological Services is not a “covered entity” under HIPPA (services are not available to non-students) and is not regulated by HIPPA Privacy Rule.  
 
How does a student access their record? 
A student may access their Counseling and Psychological Services record by requesting to see the record in writing. Counseling and Psychological Services maintains the physical record, but the student may review the record in the presence of one of the staff counselors. If the record contains information that would be detrimental to the student, that information may be excluded prior to the student viewing the record. A student may also request that another mental health professional review the record on the student’s behalf. This request would be made in writing and would follow the format for a release of information.  


How does a student share official information from their record? 
In order to share or release information from a Counseling and Psychological Services record, the student needs to complete a Release of Information form, or produce a letter that includes the same information.  
A Release of Information is a formal agreement between the student and Counseling and Psychological Services. It includes specific information and allows for disclosure of private health information for specific purposes.  
The following information is needed for a valid Release of Information.

  • Description of the information that may be disclosed.
  • Identified individual(s) who may disclose information and who may receive information.
  • Description of the purpose for disclosing the information.
  • An expiration date.
  • Signature of the student and a witness to the signature (not the person who will receive the information).
  • A statement explaining the student’s right to revoke the release and the process for doing so.
  • An understanding that the release was not signed under coercion or duress.

Why does the Counseling and Psychological Services not share information with parents? 
There are several reasons Counseling and Psychological Services does not share information with parents unless the student has asked for information to be shared. 

  1. We want students to understand that as an 18 year old their mental health information is their information, not just legally, but psychologically as well. We would never want a student to censor what they say to their counselor because they thought the information would be shared with a parent.
  2. We want students and parents to begin to communicate with each other as adults. This may be a transition for some families, but we believe college is the perfect time to further develop trust and respect for each other. We hope families will discuss their attitudes about personal information and expectations of privacy and develop an understanding of how and why information might be shared.
  3. We believe the student is the best person to share information with their parent.
  4. We respect the laws of the State of Michigan.