Privacy Practices and Information about CCG
INFORMATION ABOUT THERAPY
A decision to seek professional counsel is a significant step. We are honored you have chosen our group. We will make every effort to bring our skills and resources to each session to enable you to find solutions for your specific concerns. We look forward to the work about to be undertaken. Because of our Christian perspective we offer therapy that stems from our belief in acceptance, compassion and respect for each person. You will not feel pressured or obligated to believe a certain way but it is important you understand this is foundational to our approach. All our therapists are credentialed and licensed to practice in North Carolina. None of the therapists in our practice are physicians and we do not prescribe medication.
Appointments are usually scheduled for a 45-60 minute session once a week. In some circumstances, you may need more or less than one appointment each week and your therapist can discuss this with you. The counseling time that you requested has been reserved out of your counselor’s schedule. If you choose not to attend your session and fail to tell us in advance, you may keep someone else from counseling time that they need. Please call us 24 hours in advance if you must change your appointment. Payment is expected at time of service.
The Initial session will orient you as to what you should expect in counseling. It will involve beginning to gain an in-depth understanding of what brought you to counseling. The first few sessions are also important for establishing rapport and setting some preliminary goals.
THE BENEFITS AND RISKS OF THERAPY
Therapy involves the possibility of both risks and benefits. The benefits of therapy have been demonstrated in hundreds of well-designed research studies. People who are depressed may find their mood lifting. Others may no longer feel afraid, angry, or anxious. In therapy, people have a chance to talk things out fully until their feelings are relieved or the problems are solved. Client’s relationships and coping skills may improve greatly. They may get more satisfaction out of social and family relationships. Their personal goals and values may become clearer. They may grow in many directions—as persons, in their close relationships, in their work or education, and in the ability to enjoy their lives. But there are also risks such as experiencing uncomfortable levels of sadness, guilt, anxiety, anger, frustration, loneliness, helplessness, or other negative feelings. Some people recall unpleasant memories. Others may be critical of people in therapy. Clients may have problems with people important to them. Family secrets may be told. Problems may temporarily worsen after the beginning of treatment. Most of these risks are to be expected when people are making any important changes in their lives. Finally, even with our best efforts, there is a risk that therapy may not work out well for you.
It is natural in a counseling situation for a valued relationship to develop between counselor and client(s). However, in order for the most professional and best quality therapy to occur, the discussion of counseling issues must be confined to a professional setting. You may run into your counselor in another setting. Your counselor will not be able to talk to you about your counseling and may even be hesitant to greet you with familiarity. This is to protect your privacy and keep the relationship professional. Relationships that develop in counseling will not be able to continue once counseling has ended. This is determined by the ethical guidelines of our profession. Your counselor will NOT be available for phone consultations between sessions unless you make specific arrangements. Phone or electronic consultation will be charged at the normal rate. If you have any questions about this policy, please feel free to discuss it with your counselor.
The therapists at CCG are not on call. We do not have specific access or privileges at any hospitals. We will do our best to respond to emergencies but we do NOT provide 24-hour coverage. If you or a family member has an emergency please call 911. There are services available that provide rapid response and follow up access to psychiatric help.
North Carolina law protects the privacy of communications regarding mental health treatment between you and your therapist. Before disclosing mental health information about you to others for treatment, payment, or health care operations, we will request your permission and have you sign a written form. North Carolina law generally restricts our disclosure of your Protected Health Information (PHI) in most instances. However, there are some exceptions to this that are described below.
1. We may use and disclose PHI about you to provide health care treatment to you. This may include communicating with other health care providers regarding your treatment and coordinating and managing your health care with others. In addition, we may use and disclose PHI about you when referring you to another health care provider. For example, your counselor may share medical information about you when referring to a physician. We may contact you with information about treatment, services, products or health care providers.
2. We may use and disclose PHI about you to obtain payment or schedule services. We may contact you to schedule or remind you of appointments. Generally, we may use and give your health information to others to bill and collect payment for the treatment and services provided to you. Before you receive scheduled services, we may share information about these services with your insurance provider. Sharing information allows us to ask for coverage under your plan or policy and for approval of payment before we provide the services.
3. We may use and/or disclose PHI about you for a number of circumstances in which you do not give consent, give authorization or otherwise have an opportunity to agree or object. Those circumstances include:
- When the use and/or disclosure is required by law. For example, when a disclosure is required by federal, state or local law or other judicial or administrative proceeding.
- When the disclosure relates to victims of abuse, neglect or domestic violence. For example, if we have reason to believe that a child is being abused or neglected by you or a family member, we are obligated by law to report that to the Department of Social Services. Child abuse includes, but may not be limited to, severe physical punishment, sexual molestation, neglect and abandonment.
- When the use and/or disclosure is to avert, prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to the health or safety of a person or the public. If you threaten to harm either yourself or someone else, we are obligated to take whatever actions seem necessary to protect any involved people from physical harm. This includes the obligation to warn any person who may be harmed by your behavior. This is a responsibility we don’t take lightly and would only happen if it was determined that danger was imminent & unavoidable.
- When the use and/or disclosure relates to correctional institutions and in other law enforcement custodial situations.
- We may discuss your case during supervision or consultation we deem needed to provide you the best treatment. Every effort will be made to disguise identifying information.
If you sign a written authorization allowing us to disclose PHI about you in a specific situation, you can later cancel your authorization. If you cancel your authorization in writing, we will not disclose PHI about you after we receive your cancellation, except for disclosures that were being processed before we received your cancellation. A full description of our policy is available for download on our website.
In the case of a minor who may have individual sessions, parents legally may access their child’s file. However, therapy is usually more effective if parents allow the therapist discretion in deciding what information to divulge, especially with adolescent clients. Consent from all custodial parents is required before treatment can begin.
COUPLE & FAMILY COUNSELING
Couple and family counseling differs somewhat from individual counseling. The couple or family unit is the “client” and your therapist’s first priority is to the relationship. Your therapist will work hard to be impartial and not favor an individual. Often there are good reasons to see members of a couple or family individually, or in smaller groups, such as just the parents, or just the children but the focus is the relationship. Confidentiality policies also change in couple or family counseling. Asking your therapist to keep secret disclosures from others in the family is difficult and puts the therapist in an awkward position. Generally speaking anything shared in couple’s counseling is available to both parties. Sometimes relationships do not work out. Only you and your partner can make the final decision to marry, separate or divorce. If your relationship changes or you need individual therapy you marriage therapist may need to refer you to another therapist.
LENGTH AND END OF YOUR THERAPY
It is difficult to judge the length of therapy. Your counselor may be able to give you some idea regarding the possible length, but it is just an estimate. If you think you want to quit, it is important to discuss these feelings with your counselor before you make a decision. However, you have the right to end counseling at any time and are not required to give an explanation to the counselor. After counseling has ended, you may return later for additional counseling sessions.