The law protects the confidentiality between a client and his or her therapist, and information cannot be disclosed without written permission.
All communication between you and your therapist will be held in strict confidence unless you provide written permission to release information about your therapy or counseling treatment. If you participate in family or couples counseling, your therapist will not disclose confidential information about your treatment unless all person(s) who participated in therapy with you provide their written authorization to release. Your therapist will not disclose information communicated privately to him by one family member to any other family member outside the treatment unit, without written permission.
In their practices, therapists must maintain the confidentiality of clients' protected health information by adhering to practice policies set forth through HIPAA guidelines (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).
However, there are some exceptions to confidentiality. For example, therapists are required to report instances of suspected child, elder, or dependent adult abuse. Therapists may be required or permitted to break confidentiality when they have determined that a client presents a serious danger of physical violence to another person or when a client presents the danger of bodily harm to him or herself. The safety of the client is a critical priority in therapy, and your therapist will take necessary steps to ensure that you remain safe if any of these situations are a concern.
If you are receiving couples, family or group therapy, your therapist is not obligated to withhold information communicated privately by one family member with him. It is important that an atmosphere of trust is upheld within the experience of couples, family, and group therapy. As such, expecting your therapist to keep private information as a secret between you and him will risk undermining the trust within therapy with other family or group members. If you do share private information with your therapist on an individual basis, your therapist will encourage you to consider how to communicate this information to other family or group members, in a way that will be most appropriate and beneficial for the therapeutic treatment of yourself and for other clients who are in therapy with you.
Minors and Confidentiality
Communications between therapists and clients who are minors (under the age of 18) are confidential. However, parents and other guardians who provide authorization for their child’s therapy or counseling treatment are often involved in their treatment of care. Consequently, your therapist, in the exercise of his professional judgment, may discuss the counseling treatment progress of a minor client with the parent or caretaker. Parents of clients who are minors are encouraged to discuss any questions or concerns that they have on this topic with their therapist.
In some situations, a minor client may be allowed to participate in therapy without the consent of a parent or guardian. Currently, under California law, this pertains to minor clients when the following criteria are met: (1) the client is at least 12 years of age, (2) the client is mature enough to participate intelligently in therapy, (3) there must be a sufficient reason not to inform the client's parents or legal guardian (e.g., due to the threat of the client's safety or well-being), (4) therapy must be provided on an outpatient basis, and (5) the minor client must be responsible for paying the fee of therapy and is able to pay this fee without relying on any illegal means of income.
Non-Scheduled Availability / Emergencies
Telephone consultations between office visits are welcome. However, Dr. McNutt will attempt to keep those contacts brief due to his belief that important issues are better addressed within regularly scheduled therapy sessions.
You may leave a message for Dr. McNutt at any time on his confidential voicemail at (619) 540-6560. If you wish for him to return your call, please be sure to leave your name and phone number(s), along with a brief message concerning the nature of your call. Non-urgent phone calls are normally returned during regular workdays (Monday through Friday) within 24 hours. If you have an urgent need to speak with Dr. McNutt, please indicate that fact in your message and follow any instructions that are provided by his voicemail, such as other contact information for community support resources. In the event of an emergency or an emergency involving the threat to your safety or the safety of others, please call 911 to request emergency assistance, or the San Diego County Crisis and Hotline number at 1-888-724-7240.
Depending on Dr. McNutt's schedule, he may not be available to return your phone call within 24 hours.