College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario (CRPO): Limits to Confidentiality

Regarding confidentiality, the CRPO writes:

“Normally, a Member may only disclose personal health information with the consent of the client or his/her authorized representative. However, in law, there are a limited number of circumstances where disclosure of personal health information is required without consent.

Notable limits to confidentiality include:

1. where the Member believes on reasonable grounds that disclosure is necessary to eliminate or reduce significant, imminent risk of serious bodily harm (includes physical or psychological harm) to the client or anyone else, e.g. suicide, homicide; Note: If the Member believes a significant, imminent risk of serious bodily harm exists (this includes physical or psychological harm), there may be a professional and legal duty to warn the intended victim, to contact relevant authorities such as the police, or to inform a physician who is involved in the care of the client.

2. where disclosure is required under the Child and Family Services Act, for example, where the Member has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child is in need of protection due to physical harm, neglect or sexual abuse by a person having charge of the child;

3. where necessary for particular legal proceedings (e.g. when the Member is subpoenaed);

4. to facilitate an investigation or inspection if authorized by warrant or by any provincial or federal law (e.g. a criminal investigation against the Member, his or her staff, or a client);

5. for the purpose of contacting a relative, friend or potential substitute decision-maker of the individual, if the individual is injured, incapacitated or ill and unable to give consent personally; and

6. to a College for the purpose of administration or enforcement of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991 (RHPA)”

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