I am committed to respecting and protecting your privacy. This section outlines my policies and procedures with respect to collecting, using, and disclosing your personal health information. It also provides information about how you can access records of your personal health information and request correction of recorded information.
Definition of “Personal Health Information”
All identifiable information collected by a Clinical Psychologist about an individual, in the course of providing psychological services, is considered “personal health information” under the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004 (PHIPA). This includes your name and contact information, as well as any information collected/recorded in the course of providing services to you.
Collection of Your Personal Health Information
I will only collect your personal health information directly from you, except: a) when you have provided consent to obtain such information from others (e.g., reports of previous assessments or of other services); and b) where the law requires or allows me to collect information without your consent (e.g., in an urgent situation, when information is needed to prevent potential harm).
I only collect information from you that I believe is needed: a) to provide you with the services you have requested and/or for which you have been referred; b) to maintain contact with you for service-related or future consent purposes; c) to prevent or offset harm (e.g., asking for an emergency contact).
By law and in accordance with professional standards, I am required to keep a record of services provided to and contacts with you. Your record includes information you provide or authorize me to receive, results of any assessments, your service plan, consent forms, contact notes, progress summaries, billing information, and correspondence that I have sent or received related to your service. The records are the property of my practice. However, you have rights regarding access to your record and regarding disclosure of information from your record (see below).
Use of Your Personal Health Information
The primary use of your personal health information is to provide services to you. This includes carrying out the functions reasonably necessary to provide those services (e.g., service planning and monitoring, maintaining your record, billing, etc.).
I do not keep paper records. Your electronic record is stored on the secure, PHIPA compliant “OWL” program, or a similar PHIPA compliant program. All sessions are conducted virtually over PHIPA compliant software.
Disclosure of Your Personal Health Information
With only a few exceptions, your personal health information will not be disclosed to third parties without your knowledge and express consent. The exceptions are circumstances in which disclosure is allowed by law:
(a) When there is a clear and imminent risk of serious bodily harm to someone (yourself or another), including the possibility of self-harm.
(b) When disclosure is needed to receive professional or legal consultation.
(c) For mandatory reporting of a child who might be in need of protection.
(d) For mandatory reporting of an individual in a long term care home or retirement facility whom you suspect is being abused.
(e) For mandatory reporting of a regulated health professional who has sexually abused a client.
(f) In compliance with a court order to release information from a record.
(g) In compliance with an urgent demand by a police officer under the Missing Persons Act.
(h) To comply with professional regulations established by the College of Psychologists of Ontario, who may inspect records and interview staff as a part of their regulatory activities (e.g., quality assurance) in the public interest.
(i) To comply with regulatory authorities under the terms of the Regulated Health Professions Act (RHPA) for the purposes of the College of Psychologists of Ontario for fulfilling their respective mandates under the RHPA, as well as for a defence of a legal issue.
(j) To insurance companies, employee assistance programs, credit card companies or other third-party payers as needed, who will have your consent or legislative authority to direct me to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate your entitlement to funding and to answer questions about the services you have received.
All persons involved in these activities are required by law to maintain the confidentiality of any accessed information. The above exceptions are called “limits of confidentiality.” If there are other limits of confidentiality in your situation, I will identify and discuss them with you before proceeding with your service. Please note that the law requires any disclosure of your personal health information to be limited to information that is reasonably necessary for the purpose of the disclosure.
When consenting to the disclosure of your personal health information to another health professional, who is providing services to you, you may restrict me from sharing all or any part of your personal information. However, if in my opinion the information is reasonably necessary for another health service provider to provide appropriate service, I am required by law to inform the other provider that you have refused consent to provide some needed information.
Please note that in couples therapy, information from one party (provided during joint or individual sessions, or outside of sessions) cannot be kept confidential from the other.
Your Right of Access to Your Personal Health Information Record
With only a few exceptions, you have the right to access any record of your personal health information, and to request copies of the information. If the record contains personal health information about another individual, that individual’s information must be able to be severed from the record before you may access the record. Because of the nature of certain services, severing information in some, not all places of the record can be difficult and at times impossible.
Please note that if you are receiving couples therapy, you and your partner’s file is contained in a “joint file.” If in the future you would like to access your record or any other personal health information related to your record (e.g., receipts), both of you must consent.
Other information contained in your personal file that I may not be able to provide includes information provided in confidence by a third party, and information that could result in serious harm to someone’s treatment or recovery, or in serious bodily harm to someone.
If you request your personal file:
I may need to confirm your identity, if you have not received service for some time, before providing you with this access.
If I cannot give you access, and absent extenuating circumstances, I will tell you within 30 days and explain why not.
I will review your record with you, so that I can answer any questions you may have.
If you believe there is a mistake in the information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions I may have formed.
Where I agree there is an error, I will make the correction and notify anyone to whom I have sent the incorrect information. If I do not agree that I have made an error, you may provide a notice of disagreement that will be included in the file and I will forward that notice to anyone else who received the earlier information.
Retention And Destruction of Personal Information
I am required by legislation and my regulatory bodies to retain personal information for 10 years after our work together concludes. After this period, I will dispose of confidential information and records in a manner that ensures that all personal or identifying information is erased or destroyed. I will make a record of your name, and the date on which your file and information was disposed of.
Concerns and Further Information
If you would like more detailed information at any time, would like to access or ask for a correction of your record, have a concern about my privacy policies and procedures, or have a concern about the way your privacy has been handled, please do not hesitate to speak or write to me.
Further details of the applicable laws, regulations, and standards may be found at the Websites of the College of Psychologists of Ontario (www.cpo.ca), and the Personal Health Information Protection Act (www.ipc.on.ca).
For more general inquiries or concerns, the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario oversees the administration of the privacy legislation in the private sector.
The Commissioner can be reached at:
80 Bloor Street West, Suite 1700
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2V1
Phone (416) 326-3333