Privacy of Information PDF Print E-mail

Privacy of personal information is an important principle to New Realities. All aspects of clients’ involvement at New Realities are held in utmost confidence. Personally identifiable information regarding individuals using our service is not discussed or disclosed to outside parties without prior written permission of the client.

However, psychotherapists are ethically and/or legally required to disclose confidential information to the appropriate authorities in four kinds of circumstances:

1. If a client indicates that they or another person may be a danger to themselves or others
2. In the case of apparent, suspected or potential child abuse or neglect
3. If a client reports sexual abuse by a Regulated Health Care Professional
4. When a court issues a summons for records or testimony

From time to time, your therapist will consult a colleague in the Centre in order to provide quality service, while the information remains confidential within the Centre.

We also try to be open and transparent as to how we handle personal information. This document describes our privacy policies.

What is Personal Information?

Personal information is information about an identifiable individual. Personal information includes information that relates to an individual’s personal characteristics (e.g.. Gender, age, income, home address or phone number, ethnic background, family status); health (e.g.. Mental health history, mental health conditions, health services received by them; or activities and views (e.g.. Religion, politics, opinions expressed by an individual, an opinion or evaluation of an individual).

Who We Are

New Realities is a private centre providing psychotherapy services to individuals with eating disorders and related issues as well as their families. At the time of writing, our centre has three psychotherapists who are Certified Members of the Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists. We occasionally use consultants who may in the course of their duties has limited access to personal information that we hold. These include accountants, website manager and computer consultant. We restrict their access to any personal information we hold as much as is reasonably possible. We also have their assurance that they follow appropriate privacy principle.

Primary Purposes of Collection of Personal Information

The primary purpose for collecting personal information is to provide psychotherapy treatment. We collect information about a client’s mental and physical health history, family history and social functioning to assess their mental health needs and to provide the appropriate mental health care. A second primary purpose is to obtain a baseline of health information so that in providing ongoing health services we can identify changes that occur over time.

Secondary Purposes of Collections of Personal Information

In addition to our primary purposes, personal information may be used:

  1. To invoice clients for services that were not paid for at the time or to collect unpaid accounts
  2. To advise clients of special events or new services
  3. For the purposes of reviewing client files to ensure that we provide high quality service including assessing the performance of our staff
  4. When services are paid for by third parties (e.g.. Employee assistance programs, government agencies). These third party payers would have your consent to direct us to collect and disclose to them certain information in order to demonstrate client entitlement for this funding.

 

In addition, as professionals, we will report serious misconduct, incompetence or incapacity of other practitioners, whether they belong to other organizations or our own. Also, our organization believes that it should report information suggesting serious illegal behavior to the authorities. External regulators have their own strict privacy obligations. Sometimes these reports include personal information about our clients, or other individuals, to support the concern (e.g.. Improper services). Also, like all organizations, various government agencies (e.g.. Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Information and Privacy Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, etc.) have the authority to review our files and interview our staff as a part of their mandates. In these circumstance, we may consult with professionals (eg. Lawyers, accountants) who will investigate the matter and report back to us.

Protecting Personal Information

We understand the importance of protecting personal information. For that reason, we have taken the following steps:

  1. Paper information is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area
  2. Paper information is transmitted through sealed, addressed envelopes or boxes marked “Private and Confidential” by reputable companies
  3. Staff are trained to collect, use and disclose personal information only as necessary to fulfill their duties and in accordance with our privacy policy
  4. Electronic hardware is either under supervision or secured in a locked or restricted area at all times. All of our cell phones are digital as these signals are more difficult to intercept.

 

Retention and Destruction of Personal Information

We need to retain personal information for some time to ensure that we can answer any questions you might have about the services provided and for our own accountability to external regulatory bodies. Files remain the property of New Realities when a therapist retires or is no longer providing services through New Realities. However, we do not want to keep personal information too long in order to protect your privacy. Client files are maintained for a period of ten years (from the date of last contact) or for ten years after the client has reached the age of eighteen which ever is later.

We destroy paper files containing personal information by shredding. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed.

You Can Look At Your Information

With only a few exceptions, you have the right to see what personal information we hold about you. We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information you do not understand (e.g.. Short forms, technical language, etc.) We strongly recommend that should you choose to view your clinical records that you review them with your therapist. We reserve the right to charge a nominal fee for such requests.

If there is a problem we may ask you to put your request in writing. If we cannot give you access, we will tell you within 30 days if at all possible and tell you the reason, as best we can, as to why we cannot give your access.

If you believe there is a mistake in the information, you have the right to ask for it to be corrected. This applies to factual information and not to any professional opinions we may have formed. We may ask you to provide documentation that our files are wrong. Where we agree that we made a mistake, we will make the correction and notify anyone to whom we sent this information. If we do not agree that we have made a mistake, we will still agree to include in our file a brief statement from you on the point and we will forward that statement to anyone else who received the earlier information.

Do You Have A Question?

Our Information Officer, Ms. Orit Morse, can be reached at: (905) 763-0660 or in writing at 18 Colleen St. Thornhill, Ontario L4J 5H1

She will attempt to answer any questions you might have.

If you wish to make a formal complaint about our privacy practices, you may make it in writing to our Information Officer. She will acknowledge receipt of your complaint, ensure that it is investigated promptly and that you are provided with a formal written decision with reasons.

If you have a concern about the professionalism or competence of our services or the mental or physical capacity of any of our professional staff we would ask you to discuss those with us. However , if we cannot satisfy your concerns, you are entitled to complain to our professional association:

Ontario Association of Consultants, Counsellors, Psychometrists and Psychotherapists.
Contact Chair, Professional Conduct Committee.

For more general inquiries about the Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The Information and Privacy Commissioner can be reached at

112 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1H3
Phone: 613) 995-8210 / 800-282-1376 / Fax (613) 947-6850 / TTY (613) 992-9190
www.privcom.gc.ca