THE FOLLOWING IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE AS IT DOES NOT COME FROM AN ATTORNEY. YOU ARE ADVISED TO CONSULT AN ATTORNEY IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS.
It is not uncommon for counselors to be subpoenaed to testify in cases that concern our clients. When this happens, your first course of action is to consult with your principal and/or the attorney for your corporation. If asked for counselor records, you might tell the parent/attorney or write in a letter why you’re not able to share those records (citing privileged communication). The student information shared with the counselor is not his/her information to share unless it meets one of those exceptions (harm to self or other, abuse, etc.)
- Privileged Communication: IC 20-28-10-17 http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title20/ar28/ch10.htmlAdmissibility of privileged communication: http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title31/ar32/ch11.html
An easy way to think of privileged communication is that it basically means it is the client/student’s information to share. However, once you share information shared by the student (to you) with another person (teacher or principal, for example) it’s no longer “privileged communication”. Therefore, after that point, if asked to testify in court, you couldn’t say that it was “privileged communication”.
- Social Workers – Privileged Communication: http://www.ai.org/legislative/ic/code/title25/ar23.6/ch6.html (this section includes exceptions to privilege
- Ethical Standards for School Counselors: http://www.schoolcounselor.org/content.asp?pl=325&sl=136&contentid=136 See A.2 Confidentiality
- Bring your notes if requested by the court (if your notes weren’t mentioned in the subpoena, don’t bring them).
- Ethically you are required to keep client information (both written and verbal) confidential. You may want to refer to: IC 34-46-2-13 School counselors Sec. 13. IC 20-28-10-17 (Concerning communications made to a school counselor). As added by P.L.1-1998, SEC.42. Amended by P.L.1-2005, SEC.225. and IC 25-23.6-6-1: http://www.in.gov/legislative/ic/code/title25/ar23.6/ch6.html regarding privileged communication. Other suggestion: take everything that is requested with you to court but present this law and code when asked to share information that you believe falls within these parameters. Make sure you have copies of your licenses and credentials with you also.
If you have suggestions, feedback, or resources, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know.