Review NCSSM's Counseling Services' policies regarding confidentiality.

What information is kept confidential?

Under most circumstances, the information a student shares with the counselor is confidential. The dates and times of counseling appointments and/or counseling session notes are not kept in the student’s school file or any documents that are sent to colleges. If any information is to be disclosed to a source outside of NCSSM like a doctor or therapist, the student and/or parents must sign a release of exchange information form.

The need-to-know rule (FERPA) requires school counselors to reveal sensitive information only when the recipient of the information has a need to know and is in a position to benefit the student if they have the shared information. Without the assurance of confidentiality, many students would not seek our help. Breaching student confidentiality with teachers, parents and administrators requires continuously balancing the rights of students and parents against the criteria of need to know.

When would NCSSM counselors contact parents/guardians?

There are exceptions to confidentiality. If students are suspected of being a danger to themselves or others, the counselor will need to break confidentiality and reveal enough information to resolve the crisis. In addition, the counselors at NCSSM are state mandated reporters of suspected child abuse or neglect. If students are unsure if what they or a friend is thinking or experiencing will be kept confidential, they should feel free to ask the counselor for clarification before disclosing the information.

NC Senate Bill 199 requires every adult (which means all NCSSM adults and students 18 years and older) to report suspected instances of sexual violence (past and present) against children to local law enforcement. The law was enacted to protect infants to young children to adolescents. Because NCSSM students fall into this category, this law pertains to our students. In the instance of suspected sexual violence (past and present), NCSSM counselors will contact parents/guardians to notify them that a police report will be made. NCSSM counselors will contact a student’s parents/guardians if we are concerned for a student’s safety. If this needs to happen, we will make every effort to inform the student first . Usually this comes up if a student is having suicidal thoughts or has engaged in behavior that the counselor has deemed to be unsafe. NCSSM counselors may call parents to recommend outside services be put in place or, in the case of an emergency situation, we will have the student’s parents take them to have an immediate evaluation to ensure the student will receive the proper level of care to keep him or her safe.