Home About Clinical Forensic Testing Consulting Q and A Contact Privacy Policy  

Email is a form of communication in which confidentiality cannot be guaranteed.
As such, it is my policy to limit the subject of email exchanges to requests for additional information or appointment scheduling. For all other matter, please call me office at 310.377.4264. In the event of an emergency, please call 911.

The law protects the privacy of all communications between a patient and a psychologist. In most situations, I can only release information about your treatment to others if you sign a written Authorization Form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by state law and/or HIPAA. But, there are some situations where I am permitted or required to disclose information without either your consent or Authorization:

  • I may occasionally find it helpful to consult other health and mental health professionals about a case. During a consultation, I make every effort to avoid revealing the identity of my patient. The other professionals are also legally bound to keep the information confidential.
  • You should be aware that I practice with other mental health professionals. In most cases, I need to share protected information with these individuals for both clinical and administrative purposes, such as scheduling, billing and quality assurance. All of the mental health professionals are bound by the same rules of confidentiality.
  • If a patient threatens to harm himself/herself, I may be obligated to seek hospitalization for him/her, or I may need to contact your family members or others who can help provide for your protection.
  • If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information about the professional services that I have provided you and/or the records thereof, such information is protected by psychologist-patient privilege law. I cannot provide any information without your (or your legally-appointed representativeís) written authorization, a court order, or compulsory process (a subpoena) or discovery request from another party to the court proceeding where that party has given you proper notice (when required) has stated valid legal grounds for obtaining PHI, and I do not have grounds for objecting under state law (or you have instructed me not to object). If you are involved in or contemplating litigation, you should consult with your attorney to determine whether a court would be likely to order me to disclose information.
    • If a government agency is requesting the information for health oversight activities pursuant to their legal authority, I may be required to provide it for them.
    • If a patient files a complaint or lawsuit against me, I may disclose relevant information regarding that patient in order to defend myself.
    • If a patient files a workerís compensation claim, I must, upon appropriate request, disclose information relevant to the claimant's condition, to the workerís compensation insurer.

There are some situations in which I am legally obligated to take actions, which I believe are necessary to attempt to protect others from harm and I may have to reveal some information about a patientís treatment. These situations are unusual in my practice.

  • If I have knowledge of a child under 18 or I reasonably suspect that a child under 18 has been the victim of child abuse or neglect, the law requires that I file a report with the appropriate governmental agency, usually the county welfare department. I also may make a report if I know or reasonably suspect that mental suffering has been inflicted upon a child or that his or her emotional well being is endangered in any other way (other than physical or sexual abuse, or neglect). Once such a report is filed, I may be required to provide additional information.
  • If I observe or have knowledge of an incident that reasonably appears to be physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse or neglect of an elder or dependent adult, or if an elder or dependent adult credibly reports that he or she has experienced behavior including an act or omission constituting physical abuse, abandonment, abduction, isolation, financial abuse, or neglect, or I reasonably suspect that abuse has occurred, the law requires that I report to the appropriate government agency. Once such a report is filed, I may be required to provide additional information.
  • If a patient communicates a serious threat of physical violence against an identifiable victim, I must take protective actions, including notifying the potential victim and contacting the police. I may also seek hospitalization of the patient, or contact others who can assist in protecting the victim.
  • If I have reasonable cause to believe that the patient is in such mental or emotional condition as to be dangerous to him or herself, I may be obligated to take protective action, including seeking hospitalization or contacting family members or others who can help provide protection.

While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you about potential problems, it is important that we discuss any questions or concerns that you may have now or in the future. The laws governing confidentiality can be quite complex, and I am not an attorney. In situations where specific advice is required, formal legal advice may be needed.


827 Deep Valley Drive, Suite 309
Rolling Hills Estates, CA 90274
Phone: (310) 377-4264
Office Hours By Appointment
California License Number PSY 22565
Copyright © Joanna Edwards. All Rights Reserved