At White Pine Psychology, we respect the privacy of our clients and are deeply committed to ensuring the confidentiality of our clients’ personal health information. The purpose of this document is to be transparent on the personal information we collect, how it is used and disclosed and only to the point necessary to provide you with the services you have given consent for.
Personal Health Information
Personal health information includes any information collected with the purpose to provide health care.
The practice of psychology in Ontario is regulated under the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA). As such, all identifiable information collected by registered psychologists, or psychologists in supervised practice, in the course of practicing psychology is considered to be personal health information under PHIPA.
In accordance with the PHIPA and RHPA privacy guidelines, personal health information includes information provided (but not limited to) contact information, name, address, phone number or email address, gender, date of birth, and any data about yourself that you choose to provide White Pine Psychology. This also includes information related to your physical or mental health, as well as your health history, medical records and prescriptions.
Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Health Information:
All personal information provided is voluntary. At White Pine Psychology, we collect, use and disclose only as much personal health information as is required in order to provide you with the services you are requesting from us, to maintain contact with you, and to prevent or offset harm. This also includes contact information for anyone you have given consent for to be in your ‘circle of care’ on your account for emergency and/or billing purposes.
Our ‘Contact Form’ requires you to enter some personal information including a name and email address. Any other information you include in the contact form is voluntary and used to connect you with the most appropriate associate for your requested needs. Please be aware that E-mail is not a secure form of communication, and though every measure is taken to ensure privacy, confidentiality cannot be assured through this platform.
The majority of your personal health information exists only within your client file and is only to be accessed by your treating therapist, unless there is a request or requirement for further disclosure.
Third party payers, when applicable, may request specific information about your healthcare which would include:
Extended-health benefits insurers, for example, often have your consent for us to release information about session dates, duration and the clinical provider’s information (name, title, registration number)
Auto insurers, WSIB, Long-Term Disability insurers and legal representatives may request information related to your health conditions, treatment needs, treatment progress and disability in order to make determinations of your entitlement to funding.
Your personal information may be release without your consent in the following circumstances:
1) Evidence of any abuse of children (including neglect), or abuse to the elderly in a long-term care facility or retirement home;
2) Danger of harm to anyone, including you/your child;
3) Any sexual misconduct disclosed on the part of a regulated health professional
4) By Court Order
5) Police requested information to aid in a missing person case
6) Quality Control; As part of the College of Psychologists of Ontario’s Quality Assurance Program, your file may be potentially reviewed by another member of the College. The College has confidentiality policies in place to protect your information.
The exceptions to confidentiality are rare. If they should occur, whenever possible, your clinician will discuss with you any action that is being considered. There are times, however, where your associate may have to disclose information without speaking with you prior, especially if such a discussion would prevent them from securing your safety or the safety of others.
You may withdraw your consent at any time in writing. Please contact your treating clinician or our Privacy Officer listed below.
Storage and Destruction of Personal Information
All personal information is maintained in a secure place while you are engaged in services at White Pine Psychology.
We retain your personal information only for as long as is necessary, for the purpose for which it was collected, to answer any questions you might have about the services provided, for our own accountability and in accordance with the ethics and standards of your clinician’s regulatory body.
As such, we retain our clients’ information for a minimum of ten years after the last contact (for adults) and in clients who are seen before the age of 18, records are retained for ten years following their 18th birthday.
After 10 years, your personal information is destroyed in a secure manner that protects your privacy. We destroy electronic information by deleting it and, when the hardware is replaced or discarded, we ensure that the hard drive is physically destroyed.
Personal Information Exchanged Virtually (Phone and Video Sessions)
White Pine Psychology offers in-person, virtual (video) and telephone-based options for treatment. Virtual and telephone-based sessions are also mental health services, and these have the same purpose or intention as in person sessions do.
Video services are offered through our booking software, OWL Practice Canada, which is 100% PHIPA Compliant.
Video sessions require the use of a webcam or smartphone, and a link to the virtual session will be provided prior to the session. If you or your clinician elect to use a different videoconferencing platform; the benefits/risks of that platform will be discussed with you prior to beginning virtual sessions.
Telephone-based sessions will involve your clinician contacting you by phone at your scheduled appointment time. Please note that in some cases, the Caller ID may show up as “Unknown” or blocked. We ask you to ensure you are available and can answer the call at the scheduled appointment time.
Engaging in treatment using virtual care or by telephone encompasses risks that should also be considered. Please note the following rights and risks in using virtual and telephone-based care:
The laws and professional standards that apply to regular mental health services apply to virtual and telephone-based care.
There are exceptions to client confidentiality policies that exist for regular therapy; these also apply to virtual and telephone-based services. The exceptions are outlined above in ‘Collection, Use and Disclosure of Personal Health Information’
Your Clinician has the right, at any time, to determine if virtual and/or telephone-based sessions are not appropriate for your care. Should this be determined, your Clinician will suggest alternative ways to continue your therapy.
Despite best efforts to ensure high standards of technology, there is always a risk that services could be disrupted or distorted by unforeseen technical problems.
Consent to the use of virtual and telephone-based sessions indicates your agreement with the following conditions:
Confidentiality still applies for mental health tele-services, and the session will not be recorded by the Clinician or yourself without permission from the other person(s).
It is important to be in a quiet, private space that is free of distractions during the session.
It is important to use a secure internet connection rather than public/free Wi-Fi.
For child/adolescent clients, permission of your parent/legal guardian (and their contact information) is required to engage in tele-sessions.
Use of virtual and telephone-based sessions is voluntary. Please advise us if you no longer wish to engage in tele-services and we will discuss alternate options with you at that time.
Accessing your Personal Health Information
You have the right to see what personal information we hold about you, with only a few exceptions.
We can help you identify what records we might have about you. We will also try to help you understand any information that you do not understand (e.g., abbreviations, technical language, etc.). We may need to confirm your identity, if we do not know you, before providing you with this access. We reserve the right to charge a fee for such requests. 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 you access.
If you believe that there are any mistakes in your personal health record, you have the right to request a correction of any errors, and to request that notification of any corrections be sent to others who may have received the incorrect or disputed information. This applies to factual information only and not to professional opinions or observations. Should we not agree that a correction or amendment is warranted, individuals have a right to insist that a statement of disagreement be included within their record, and also have a right to complain to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario.
Questions or Concerns
Any personal information you provide in accordance with the above conditions is supplied voluntarily and White Pine Psychology has your consent to use the information only as indicated above in accordance with the Personal Information Protection and & Electronic Documents Act.
If you have any questions or concerns, you may contact our Privacy Officer, Dr. Carmen Weiss at firstname.lastname@example.org or 289-427-5577
If we cannot satisfy or resolve your concerns, you have the right to file a complaint with your clinician’s regulatory body:
The College of Psychologists of Ontario (416)961-8817; Web: www.cpo.on.ca
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (416)972-9882; http://www.ocswssw.org/