Is what I talk about in my session confidential?
As a registered member of the Health Professions Council of South Africa, I am ethically obligated to treat all of my clients’ private information as highly confidential. I will not, subject to the exceptions outlined below, disclose any of this information without your prior consent.
There may be exceptional circumstances under which I am ethically and legally obligated to disclose such information without my client’s consent. These situations will include:
Emergency situations in which I believe there is real risk that a client may harm or kill him or herself, harm or kill another person, or harm or kill myself. I will be compelled to take the necessary steps to prevent such harm which may mean that I break our confidentiality agreement.
A provision in any Act may oblige me to disclose confidential information about a client. For example the Prevention of Family Violence Act 133 of 1993 (reporting of abuse), the Children’s Act 38 of 2005 (reporting of abuse), and/or the Mental Health Act 17 of 2002 (reporting of a mentally ill person who is dangerous).
A court may order me to disclose private information about a client. In terms of the HPCSA guidelines, I will attempt to do everything possible (within legal regularities) to prevent the disclosure of private information unnecessarily related to the case.
Client under the age of 18 years: I will, on a regular basis, inform parents and guardians about the therapeutic process and the progress of their child. As a general rule, the best interests of the child are paramount. No information will be given to a parent or a guardian without the prior consent of the child. I do, however, reserve the right to inform a parent or guardian if it appears that the child makes him or herself guilty of a criminal behaviour; or threatens with, or is involved in, behaviour that I consider to be dangerous or potentially dangerous.
Subject to what is stated regarding confidentiality, and the limits thereof; I will not issue a report regarding my client without the client’s consent, and until I have provided the client opportunity for feedback and discussion on the contents of the report.
What can be expected in the first appointment?
In order for me to provide the best possible service to you, I need to do a thorough evaluation. This is usually done on the first session which may take between 1 – 1½ hours to do. The first meeting is a good opportunity for you to ask any questions you may have about therapy, as well as for you to find out whether this feels like a safe and comfortable space for you personally. During this evaluation I will ask you a number of questions about the reasons for coming to consult with me, your personal history, personal and family relationships, etc. It may also be valuable to interview other people who interact with you (the client) regularly to obtain additional information, but this will only be done with your consent. For example, interviewing a teacher during a school observation for a child that has been referred for behavioural difficulties.
What if I am late, need to cancel or reschedule my appointment?
As I work on an appointment basis, I will not be able to exceed the time set aside for a session. Should you be late for a session without making prior arrangements, the session will be shorter. The full fee for the session will still be charged. If you are unable to keep your appointment, please contact me to cancel the appointment or to reschedule the session to a more suitable time. If you need to cancel or reschedule an appointment, please ensure that you do so 24 hours in advance.
How many sessions are required?
The therapeutic process usually begins with about 6 to 8 sessions, which may be extended to include more sessions if the client wishes to do so. This would also apply to play therapy with children. It may be possible that your medical aid scheme will allow for approximately 15 sessions per year to be covered under the client’s Prescribed Minimum Benefits.
With regard to psychoeducational and career assessments, usually 3 separate appointments are needed. The first session would include the intake. This would be followed by the administration of the standardised assessment tests which usually takes approximately 3 hours to complete. I prefer to do assessments with children in the mornings when they are fresh and have had something to eat; and a note may be provided for their school record regarding their absenteeism if applicable. I am ethically bound to not provide the raw scores of psychological tests to anyone other than another psychologist. After I have interpreted the results from the assessment, I will discuss my findings with you or parent/guardian. I do not usually provide the final report during the feedback session, but will use the feedback discussion to make adjustments and final recommendations to the report before providing the report to you or parent/guardian.
Are after-hour emergency services offered?
Please note that I do not provide an “after hours” emergency service. Since a client usually requires medication and/or hospitalisation in psychiatric emergency situations, it is more appropriate to contact your medical doctor (GP) or psychiatrist to assist you. However, prompt face-to-face consultations can be arranged in urgent situations. Hospital visits by myself can be arranged through your treating medical doctor or psychiatrist if you request so. However, the discounted rate will not apply for hospital consultations. Clients will be charged the applicable HealthMan rate or their medical aid scheme rate.