The decision to seek professional help can be intimidating. That is why psychologists go to such great lengths to insure that you are comfortable, safe, and that your privacy and confidentiality is protected at all times. The last of these, your privacy, is so widely recognized as being essential to mental health care that it has on numerous occasions been tested and supported all the way up to the Supreme Court of the United States.
There was a time when it was easy for psychologists in small private practices to maintain privacy because they were able to regulate the flow of patients in and out of their offices and limit access to the patients' confidential information. However, with the growth of insurance-driven healthcare, managed care, and large health provider groups, these fundamental measures have become harder and harder for psychologists to uphold.
For instance, it is not at all uncommon to find large psychology clinics that employ scores of therapists in large multi-disciplinary offices that offer "one stop shopping" for mental health care. Due to their size, these clinics necessarily handle a large volume of patients and require many support staff to handle the administrative burden of scheduling, medical records, billing, insurance audits, and so forth. The unfortunate result of all this is that the patient is confronted with the uncomfortable choice of whether they wish to risk encountering people they know in large and sometimes crowded waiting rooms, and have their entire medical record available to large numbers of support staff that have no need for the sensitive material therein but who may, inadvertently, see it.
We have dealt with these complex issues in several ways. First, our offices offer private waiting rooms that minimize the likelihood that you will encounter anyone other than your therapist during your visit. Second, our support staff and assistants work off-site, utilizing state-of-the-art electronic medical technology that complies to the highest standards set forth by the HIPPA privacy rules. Finally, your records are stored electronically and encoded insuring that staff members have access only to the information they need to do their jobs, such as schedule an appointment or bill your insurance, and NEVER any of your private, protected sensitive information.