Collection of Information
Information about you may be collected or received from a number of sources:
- The person who referred you to our service (e.g. family doctor, insurance company, EAP provider)
- You and anyone you choose to include in your sessions
- Mental/medical health professionals with whom you may have contact while under our care
- Your parents (if under 16)
We do not contact any of these people without your specific permission to do so, unless we are concerned about an immediate and serious risk of harm to self or others. Sometimes people send us unsolicited information about you. We will let you know if/when this occurs.
We will gather information by talking to you. We may administer some questionnaires to help better understand how you are feeling. With your permission, we may involve family members.
Personal Information collected may include the following:
- Name, address & phone numbers
- Credit card or financial information (e.g. insurance billing information)
- Next of kin/emergency contacts
- Marital status and other familial information (e.g., children, spouses, parents etc.)
- Email address
- Employment details/school records or history
- Medical history
- Mental health history
- Family mental health history
- Dialogue or interaction with you through correspondence (e.g. letters, homework assignments, emails)
The purpose of collecting this information is to allow us to deliver the highest quality of service possible to you.
Storage and Maintenance of Personal Information
Your paperwork will be kept in a file, and stored in a locked file cabinet, in a building which is always locked when unoccupied. The file cabinet is left locked when not in use.
A separate file system is kept for financial information. Our Bookkeeper (Ron Densmore), Office Manager (Dawn Block) and Dr. Seagram have access to the financial information. All staff have specialized training in the access, use and management of personal information, and have signed confidentiality/non-disclosure contracts.
Only clinical staff have access to the clinical files. This access is restricted to clients that clinicians are working with directly.
Your personal information is also stored on our computers. We keep these computers password protected. The building is always locked when vacant. We keep a backup hard drive of your files. This is always stored in our locked file cabinet.
Records are retained for a period of 10 years following our last contact with you. In the case of minors, records are retained for 10 years following the child’s 18th birthday. In instances where information regarding the sexual abuse of minors has been reported, these files are not destroyed.
Files will be destroyed by being shredded, and then burned. Alternatively, they may be shredded and then transferred to a specialized facility designed for destruction of such materials.
On occasion, it may be necessary to have the help of specialized professionals in the running of the business (e.g. computer consultant, temporary or contract administrative replacements). At such times, these individuals will be trained in the policies and practices regarding privacy, with access to private personal information limited to information they need to know in order to do their jobs.
Use of Private Information
Private information is used for the purpose of treatment and billing only. It is not released without specific explicit permission of the client, unless mandated by a court of law, or in cases mentioned previously, involving the protection of a minor or when there is a risk of harm to self or others. In cases where there is a third party payer, treatment progress reports may be required. Clients will be advised when this is the case (e.g. Vets Affairs, Canadian Forces, Worker’s Compensation, some private insurance providers).
A Caution About Disclosure of Information through Computers
Clients often send us information about themselves through email. A cautionary note is offered that email is not a secure method of information transmission. Email is best used for simple transactions such as confirming appointment times. We are not able to guarantee the privacy of information that clients may choose to share through email.
At times, clients will ask us to email information to third parties using email as the transmission method. We will do so only with clients acknowledging the inherent risks to privacy with this method of communication.
For clients who are seeking urgent care or immediate response, email is not the best method. A quick call to our office will assure a personal response, as we may not access email as quickly as we might answer the phone. For after hours emergencies, the emergency department of your local hosptal may be the best route.