Many people, when coming to visit a mental health professional, are concerned about
confidentiality (privacy). They don't want anyone to know that they're coming for
counseling, and they don't want anyone to know what they say to their counselor.
Student Counseling Services operates within strict professional guidelines regarding
confidentiality. Mental health professionals are professionally and ethically obligated
to keep what you say confidential. They may seek input from other therapists at the
center in order to improve the quality of your care, but no information about your
counseling will be released to, or discussed with, anyone outside Student Counseling
Services without your explicit, written permission.
However, there are four specific instances where your counselor is obligated to breach
- If there is a risk of imminent harm to yourself or another person (e.g., a serious intent to commit suicide or homicide),
counselors have a legal and ethical duty to protect life. Your counselor may contact
police and psychiatric hospitalization services to protect yourself and others from
suicidal or homicidal intent. Please note that your counselor will collaborate with
you to implement safety plans other than police intervention or psychiatric hospitalization
if possible. Police intervention and psychiatric hospitalization are used only when
- If your counselor is provided evidence that a child, elderly person, cognitively disabled,
or physically disabled person is being abused, therapists will report this to appropriate authorities.
- Counselors must release information when a court of law orders them to do so. Counselors take steps to ensure that information released to a court of
law is absolutely necessary for the legal process. Whenever possible, counselors take
steps to avoid releasing information that the client deems as damaging.
- If you experience a medical crisis while at Student Counseling Services, your counselor may provide necessary medical
information (e.g., about medications) to medical personnel as appropriate for your
People coming to counseling sometimes worry that their insurance companies will have
access to their records. This is not the case at Student Counseling Services. Since
there is no charge for services to Southern Miss students, no insurance companies