Living Well Psychology & Counselling consider the privacy and confidentiality of its’ clients of the utmost importance and provide this policy for the management of clients’ personal information. The psychological services provided are bound by the legal requirements of the Australian Privacy Principles set out in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth).
Client files are held in a secure filing cabinet and secure electronic database which is accessible only to authorised employees. The information on each file includes personal information such as name, address, contact phone numbers, medical history, and other personal information collected as part of providing the psychological service.
How clients’ personal information is collected
A client’s personal information is collected in a number of ways during psychological consultation with their psychologist including when the client provides information directly to Living Well Psychology & Support using hardcopy forms, correspondence via email, when the client interacts directly with Living Well Psychology & Support employees such as the receptionist, and when other health practitioners provide personal information to us, via referrals, correspondence and medical reports.
Digital & tele health services
The laws that protect the privacy of a clients’ personal information also apply to digital and tele health services. Living Well Psychology & Support provide these services via the secure platform, Power Diary which meet HIPAA security requirements. Power Diary does not store any patient data except to allow for encryption and download of documents used during the consultation to our secure server. Neither Living Well Psychology & Support nor Power Diary record any tele health sessions and advise that clients cannot record their consultations with their clinician.
Consequence of not providing personal information
Purpose of holding personal information
A client’s personal information is gathered and used for the purpose of providing psychological services, which includes assessing, diagnosing and treating a client’s presenting issue. The personal information is retained in order to document what happens during sessions, and enables the psychologist to provide a relevant and informed psychological service. Any personal notes my clinician takes during consultations is for personal and therapeutic use only and will not be released to any third party unless otherwise required by law. If clients would like to take notes during their consultation with their clinician they are welcome to do so.
Disclosure of personal information
Clients’ personal information will not be disclosed except when:
- It is subpoenaed by a court; or
- Failure to disclose the information would in the reasonable belief of Living Well Psychology & Support place a client or another person at serious risk to life, health or safety; or
- The client’s prior approval has been obtained to:
- provide a written report to another professional or agency, e.g., a GP or a lawyer; or
- discuss the material with another person, e.g. a parent, employer or health provider; or
- disclose the information in another way; or
- Disclosure is otherwise required by law.
A client’s personal information is not disclosed to overseas recipients, unless the client consents or such disclosure is otherwise required by law. Clients’ personal information will not be used, sold, rented or disclosed for any other purpose.
Requests for access and correction to client information
At any stage clients may request to see and correct the personal information about them kept on file. The psychologist may discuss the contents with them and/or give them a copy, subject to the exceptions in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). If satisfied that personal information is inaccurate, out of date or incomplete, reasonable steps will be taken in the circumstances to ensure that this information is corrected. All requests by clients for access to or correction of personal information held about them should be lodged with the Practice Manager. These requests will be responded to in writing within 30 days, and an appointment will be made if necessary for clarification purposes.
If clients have a concern about the management of their personal information, they may inform the Practice Manager. Upon request, clients can obtain a copy of the Australian Privacy Principles, which describe their rights and how their personal information should be handled.