What Does Confidential Mean?
CST prioritizes privacy and confidentiality. In other words, what’s said at CST stays at CST. This means that we do not share information with the SHARE Title IX Office or other campus authorities. Generally, we do not share information with law enforcement.
However, as licensed mental health professionals, we do have some legal limits to confidentiality:
- We are obligated by law to report to law enforcement or child protective services if we suspect that a minor (someone under age 18) has been harmed or is at risk of being harmed. This generally occurs if a student who is under age 18 tells us they have experienced harm, such as a sexual assault. If a student who is 18 years or older tells us about harm they experienced as a child, we are only required to report it if there is currently a child or children being harmed or at risk of being harmed. See here for more information about child abuse reporting in California.
- We are legally required to report to Adult Protective Services any concerns that an older adult (60 years and older) or dependent adult (18-59 who is disabled) is being harmed or is at imminent risk of harm.
- We are legally required to protect the intended victim if a client or someone close to the client tells us that the client is planning to kill or seriously hurt another person. In that situation, we must report it to law enforcement and attempt to warn the person. This obligation is referred to as the Tarasoff Statute.
Your counselor will talk with you about these limits to confidentiality at your initial session, and we encourage you to ask questions about any concerns you have.
One of the biggest concerns we hear from students is that they are afraid they will be hospitalized if they mention thoughts about suicide or self-harm. These are very common experiences during times of stress, and we know that most individuals will not act on these thoughts. However, we always take them seriously. The first step is to talk about a plan for safety and to work collaboratively with the student to ensure they can remain safe. In very rare cases, the plan for staying safety could include reaching out to others on campus and/or a hospital evaluation. We do our best to involve the student in this process and always take other steps and try other options before reaching this last resort.