Privacy and Consent
At Barrhaven Psychological Services, we understand the importance of consent and confidentiality in providing counselling, psychotherapy and assessment services. Our team of professionals are dedicated to providing the best possible care that are centered around the needs of our clients and believe that our clients should be empowered to make their own decisions. Please review the information below regarding consent and confidentiality. If you have any questions, please feel free to speak to your clinician.
The information you provide during any consultation, meeting or session is private and confidential. That means that we are not allowed to talk to anyone else unless we have your written permission to do so. Even the fact that you have consulted us as clients are confidential. That means we are not even allowed to tell someone else that you have consulted us unless we have your permission to do so.
There are however some exceptions to confidentiality. Whether or not confidentiality can and should be broken is governed by a number of federal and provincial laws and by the regulatory bodies that governs how we practice in the Province of Ontario.
Please see below for the exceptions.
We maintain detailed records of our clients' therapy sessions to ensure that we are providing the best possible care. These records are kept confidential and secure, and we only share them with the client or when required by law.
Privacy of personal information is an important principle to us. We are committed to collecting, using and disclosing personal information responsibly and only to the extent necessary for the services we provide. We strive to be open and transparent regarding how we handle personal information. The section below describes our privacy policies.
What is Personal Information?
Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes information that relates to: an individual’s personal characteristics (e.g., gender, age, income, home address or phone number, ethnic background, family status); health (e.g., health history, health conditions, health services received by them); or, activities and views (e.g., religion, politics, opinions expressed by an individual, an opinion or evaluation of an individual). Personal information is different from business information (e.g., an individual’s business address and telephone number). This is not protected by privacy legislation.
Primary Purposes of Collection of Personal Health Information
We collect, use and disclose personal information in order to serve our clients. We collect information such as client’s health history including personal and family history, physical condition and function, and social, personal, and work or school situations. For our clients, the primary purpose of collecting personal information is to enable the Psychologist or Psychological Associate to make sound clinical decisions regarding evaluation or treatment. A second primary purpose may include ongoing monitoring of symptoms and/or distress levels to examine changes in psychological functioning over time during the course of treatment.
Related and Secondary Purposes of Collection of Personal Health Information
Like most organizations, we also collect, use and disclose information for purposes related to or secondary to our primary purposes. The most common examples of our related and secondary purposes are as follows:
To invoice clients for services that were not paid for at the time or to collect unpaid accounts.
Psychologists in supervised or autonomous practice are regulated by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. The College may inspect some records and interview staff as part of their regulatory activities to work in the public interest. The College of Psychologists of Ontario has its own strict privacy obligations.
The costs of the goods and services provided to our clients are sometimes paid by third parties (e.g., WSIB, MVA insurers, lawyers, private rehabilitation companies). These third party payers often have the client’s consent or legislative authority to direct us to disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement to this funding.
We collect your personal health information directly from you, except: a) when you have provided consent to obtain such information from others (e.g., reports of previous assessments or other services); and b) where the law requires or allows us to collect information without your consent (e.g., in an urgent situation, when information is needed to prevent potential harm).
We only collect information from you that we believe is reasonably necessary to provide you with services. If we collect information from you for any other purpose (e.g., research), it will be done only with your knowledge and consent. If you decide that you do not wish to provide additional information that is not necessary for your service, you can refuse and there will be no impact on the services that you receive.
Protecting Personal Information
We understand the importance of protecting personal information, and are committed to protect the security of your personal information. We have put in place commercially reasonable physical, electronic, and managerial procedures to safeguard and help prevent unauthorized access, maintain data security, and correctly use your personal information.
We understand the importance of protecting personal information. For that reason, we have taken the following steps:
Paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area
Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area at all times. In addition, passwords are used on computers.
Paper information is transmitted through sealed, addressed envelopes or boxes by reputable companies.
Electronic information is transmitted either through a direct line or has identifiers removed or is encrypted.
External consultants and agencies with access to personal information must enter into privacy agreements with us.
If your associate were to become incapacitated or die, your records would be placed in the care of another psychologist for protection, not examination. If you were to see another psychologist, your records could be sent to her or him at your request.
All staff members are allowed to have access to information about you only on a “need-to-know” basis. A staff person who knows you personally is required to inform us of that relationship, and is not allowed to have access to your record unless there is an emergency or you give consent.
Your record occasionally may be accessed for licensing, or accreditation purposes (e.g., College of Psychologists). However, we will not allow any information that identifies you to be taken from our premises for these purposes. All persons involved in such activities are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of any accessed information.
Limits To Protection Of Private Information
Limits to the protection of private information include:
Harm to Self: If a therapist has reason to believe that a client is in danger of physically harming him/herself in ways that may be life-threatening, a therapist will have to make a referral to a hospital and/or contact a family member, close other, or another person such as a police officer who may be able to help protect the client. There may be other emergency health care related circumstances where disclosure is reasonably necessary for the protection of health, in which case a therapist will disclose personal information to other health care professionals as long as a client has not expressly prohibited the therapist from doing so.
Harm to others: If a therapist has reason to believe that a client is seriously threatening physical violence against another person, or if a client has a history of physically violent behaviour, and if a therapist believes that a client is an actual threat to the safety of another person, the therapist is required to take some action (such as contacting the police, notifying the other person, seeking hospitalization, or some combination of these actions) to ensure that the other person is protected.
Abuse/Neglect: If a therapist has reason to believe that a child under the age of 16 is being abused or neglected, the therapist is legally obligated to report this situation to the Children’s Aid Society. Alternatively, if a therapist suspects or is informed of unlawful conduct that resulted in harm or risk of harm to a resident of a Long-Term Care Facility or Retirement Home, or that a resident is being harmed or is at risk of being harmed in any way (e.g., sexual or physical abuse, neglect, misappropriation of resident’s funds), the therapist may be required to contact the applicable Ministry or Regulatory Authority and report all relevant information.
Sexual Abuse: If a therapist learns that a client has been sexually or physically abused by a member of the regulated health profession, the therapist is required to report this information in accordance with the guidelines of the therapist’s applicable regulatory college. The client’s name will not be released without his/her consent unless such release is court ordered.
Court Order: A therapist and clinical record can be subpoenaed by a court order. A therapist can be required to testify and give information obtained during sessions. Without a court order, this information would never be provided voluntarily without a client’s direct request or consent.
Quality Control: On occasion, a therapist may be randomly selected to participate in a Peer Assisted Review by his/her regulatory college (or another Regulatory Body). As part of this process, a file may be potentially reviewed by a member of the regulatory college. Regulatory colleges have privacy and security policies in place to protect personal information.
Missing Persons: Since July 1, 2019 Missing Persons Act, 2018 gives police the ability to obtain information about a missing person after reasonable efforts have not enabled them to locate the person. Police may require a clinician to provide information by obtaining an Order or a Search Warrant or by making an Urgent Demand in writing. This information could include Personal Health Information. The Personal Health information may be provided orally or in writing.
Supervision: A therapist may be supervised in his/her clinical work by a more senior colleague. A client will be informed of any such supervisory arrangement. That supervisor may access a client’s clinical file for the purposes of quality control.
When consenting to the disclosure of your personal health information, you may restrict us from sharing all or any part of your personal information. However, if, in our opinion, the information is reasonably necessary for another health service provider to provide appropriate service, we are required by law to inform the other provider that you have refused consent to provide some needed information.
Although the law allows access to personally identifiable health information for research purposes under strict conditions, it is our policy not to allow external researchers access to information that can be identified as belonging to you, unless you consent to such access.
Your Right of Access to your Personal Health Information Record
With only a few exceptions, you have the right to access any record of your personal health information, and to request copies of the information. If you believe that information in your record is not accurate, you may make a written request to correct your record. If we do not agree with the correction you request, you may file a notice of disagreement in your record.
Retention and Destruction of Personal Information
We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. In order to protect your privacy, we do not keep personal information longer than recommended by the College of Psychologists of Ontario. We keep out client files for 10 years. If a recipient of our psychological services was younger than 18 years of age, we retain the files for 10 years past the former client’s 18th birthday. We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed.