All members of the mental health fields should subscribe to a Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice which require them to protect the confidentiality of their communications with clients. Most state licensure laws also protect client confidentiality. As a client, you are guaranteed the protection of confidentiality within the boundaries of the client/counselor relationship. Any disclosure will be made with your full written, informed consent and will be limited to a specific period of time. The only limitations to confidentiality occur when a counselor feels that there is:
- there is clear and imminent danger to you or to others
- or when legal requirements demand that confidential information be disclosed such as a court case
Whenever possible, you will be informed before confidential information is revealed.
When it comes to military members, if you are being seen on-base at the Mental Health Clinic, the information you provide is not provided to your chain of command if you self-referred.
The same limitations of confidentiality that you have off-base apply, but the following situations are also reportable when being seen on base by anyone other than a Chaplain. Those include:
- suspicion of child abuse & neglect,
- suspicion of spouse abuse & neglect,
- individuals that are on the Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) (refer to AFI 36-2104),
- the commission of a crime in violation of Uniformed Code of Military Justice, federal or state law,
- and clear threats to mission accomplishment.
No matter who you see, or where you see them, off-base or on, they should provide you with their Statement of Understanding before your session starts. This will outline their Standards of Practice and detail the situations that they are mandated to limit confidentiality on.