The Counseling Center is part of Student Affairs and is dedicated to providing high quality psychological and psychiatric care. By maintaining a strict policy of confidentiality, your privacy is respected and better care is promoted. An important way of insuring confidentiality is to provide you with detailed information on the Counseling Center's policy on confidentiality and the Georgia law on privileged communication between you and a Counseling Center professional.
Under Georgia law, counseling records are privileged and confidential. Exceptions to confidentiality can occur only under certain circumstances. These exceptions include serious immediate threat to your life or welfare or to the life or welfare of another person. This includes suspicion of the abuse of a child, elderly person or a person with a disability or imminent danger to the community at large. Disclosures may be made to select University officials when needed to protect the campus community or to ensure the continuity of care in treatment. When possible, you (the student) will be notified in advance if disclosure is deemed necessary.
No one outside the Counseling Center professional staff may have access to your records, and no one outside the Counseling Center may be given information without your written consent. This includes your parents, teachers, housing staff, friends, insurance company, etc. If it is important for us to discuss your care with anyone outside of the Counseling Center, we need written authorization from you to do so. If you feel this is needed, please discuss the needs with your counselor so we can best meet your needs without divulging unnecessary information. It is important for your parents to understand this limitation as we are bound by law to protect your clinical information. We must have a signed, written release of information form to discuss your care with your parents once you become 18 years of age. A form is available at our reception desk for your specific release of Counseling Center information.
It is important for you to know that Georgia law outlines a protected relationship between mental health professionals (specifically, psychologists and psychiatrists) and their clients. This privileged relationship means that clinicians may not reveal or be compelled by law to reveal any communication, observation, test result or other information gained as a result of the treatment relationship. Information conveyed to the Counseling Center by someone other than yourself is not considered confidential and may be shared directly with you. Privileged communication between you and your counselor or psychiatrist may be waived by a judge in child custody adoption cases, in lawsuits where mental condition is an important consideration, and in criminal lawsuits.
In order to provide you with a continuum of high level care, there may be times when a Counseling Center staff will need to contact you or respond to you via electronic mail, voice mail, facsimile machine, cellular phone and/or answering machine, unless you instruct us otherwise. It is important for you to realize there is the potential that these messages could be inadvertently received or overheard by an unintended third party. E-mail is not a secure means of communication (i.e. may be intercepted by others outside the intended audience). Counseling Center staff members prefer to minimize our use of email with you whenever possible.
During the academic year the Counseling Center office is open from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Thursday and from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm Friday. During summer and break periods, the hours are the same. Our phone number is 229-333-5940. Emergency services are available 24 hours every day of the year. The emergency services can be reached during hours the Counseling Center is not open by calling 229-259-5555, which is the number for the University Police Department, who will contact the counselor on-call. We understand that confidentiality and comfort level in talking to campus police can be an issue. If you desire, you do have the option of only using your first name. The VSU Police dispatcher will also request a phone number where you can be reached. When the Counseling Center staff talks with you, at that time, your name and student number will be needed for our records. If you have any questions on confidentiality or procedures, please bring them to the attention of your counselor. The Counseling Center encourages you to help us maintain high quality care by your active participation in and knowledge of the treatment process.