All psychologists are bound by principles of strict confidentiality. That is, what you discuss with me during your assessment or treatment is confidential and may not be released to anyone else without your implied or express consent. I normally send a consultation note to your referring physician or healthcare provider on the assumption that your consent is implied regarding my communication with other health care providers who are involved with your care. When you require information to be disclosed to someone who is not a health information custodian under the Ontario Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA,) such as an employer, I will then specifically ask for your express consent to do this, usually in writing.
Ontario law, however, obliges a psychologist to break confidentiality and act without the consent of a patient in the following situations:
If you are assessed to be in immediate danger of harming yourself, then I am required to take action that will protect your life. This may involve notifying family members, a family physician, or a justice of the peace.
If during the course of your assessment or treatment, you are assessed to be at risk for seriously injuring another person, then I am required to alert the intended victim and to notify the police.
If you report past or ongoing sexual abuse by any regulated health professional (e.g. another psychologist, physician, nurse, dentist, chiropractor,) I am required to report this to the appropriate College. In such cases, the College will request that the patient’s name be disclosed, but it is not mandatory that your name be given.
If there is reason to believe that you are abusing a child, then I am required to notify the Children’s Aid Society (CAS.)
If the Court subpoenas your psychological records, then I am required to provide them to the Court.
In an effort to assure the quality of services offered, the CPO randomly selects psychologists for assessment or review. This process may include a review of your file. The College assessors are registered providers and are therefore bound by College standards for confidentiality. Unless you inform me otherwise, I will assume that I have your implied consent to release your file to their review.
If you are unclear about any of these exceptions, please contact me, and I would be happy to clarify them for you.
As a member of the College of Psychology of Ontario (CPO), I am required to:
Practice according to the regulations, standards and professional guidelines of the CPO and the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists.
Practice according to the laws governing health professionals in Ontario.
Continually update my knowledge, skills, and competency.
I am also required to practice according to the rules set out in the Personal Health Information Protection Act (PHIPA) regarding the collection, usage, and sharing of your personal health information. All your personal information, whether in hard copy or electronic format, is private and is protected by encryption and kept in locked filing cabinets. Files may, at times, be transported between my Carling Avenue office and my home office (for report preparation, for instance,) but I take all possible precautions to maintain the privacy of your personal information. I collect and record only information which I believe to be essential to your proper care. Please feel free to ask me to address any concerns you might have about the information you are asked to disclose and how that information is protected. For a description of limitations to the privacy of your personal health information, please read the section above entitled confidentiality.
Generally, I maintain files for a period of 10 years after having completed treatment with a patient. For further information regarding your rights and my responsibilities under PHIPA, please consult me or contact the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario. You may also obtain further information regarding standards for professional practice on the website for the College of Psychology.