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Welcome to the Counseling Center

This center offers a variety of services for students, including individual and group counseling, self-help materials, psychological testing and psychiatric consultation. Our policies are described below with a brief description of the center model. Please read the information and acknowledge that you have done so by signing the “Acknowledgement of Welcome Letter / Consent for Treatment / Confidentiality of Email” form. If you have any questions about any of the following policies, please feel free to discuss them with your therapist or with the center director. Thank you for your time and cooperation.

ELIGIBILITY FOR COUNSELING SERVICES
Half-Time and Full-Time Students. Students are eligible for full counseling services during the academic year if they are a continuing half-time (undergraduate, 6 hours; graduate, 5 hours) Ball State student regularly enrolled at the time services are provided. Students are eligible for counseling services during the summer sessions if they are either enrolled in classes during the time that services are provided or have been enrolled during spring semester and are registered for fall semester classes.

Students Enrolled Less than Half-Time. Students are eligible for all services except individual therapy if they are registered for less than 6 semester hours for undergraduate students and 5 semester hours for graduate students, i.e., intake and referral; emergency services; and groups.

Faculty/Staff. Faculty/staff are eligible for consultation; intake and referral; and emergency services.

YOUR FIRST APPOINTMENT (INTAKE)
At the time you first contact our receptionist area, an "intake" appointment will be scheduled for you. When you come in for your scheduled "intake," your counselor can sometimes provide the assistance you need on the spot. Or if your issues are not appropriate for the center model of services, the "intake" counselor can assist you in locating services elsewhere. If either a group or other program is determined to be the most appropriate service for you, it can be discussed, assigned and scheduled at the time of "intake" as well. If further individual counseling is recommended, your counselor will assist you in getting scheduled as quickly as possible. If you need emergency assistance, you will receive it. Emergency services are provided whenever the university is in session or offices are open. If you have an emergency during the regular office hours, please call 765-285-1736. At anytime during the night and on weekends, please use our after-hours emergency number, 765-747-7330. In the event that the university is closed, please go directly to the emergency room at IU Health Ball Memorial Hospital, 2401 West University Avenue, Muncie, IN.

THE CENTER’S SERVICES MODEL
The Counseling Center is a short-term, focused treatment agency. If it appears at the time of "intake," or at any later time, that you need and/or want long-term therapy, your counselor will help you in locating professional help off-campus. We also offer a wide variety of small thematic and therapy groups. If it is determined that one of these group services will best meet your needs, it will be recommended. The maximum number of individual sessions that a client may have in a calendar year is 12, although most problems can be resolved in fewer than that. Your counselor will determine the number and frequency of your sessions. In a small number of cases, a client may be seen for more than twelve sessions within a training framework. These few individuals are given an opportunity to participate on a first-come/first-served basis.

KEEPING APPOINTMENTS
Your active participation in the counseling process is necessary for progress to be made. Thus, we encourage you to attend all scheduled sessions. Because counseling center policy requires at least a 24-hour cancellation notice, we request that you notify the center reception/staff (765-285-1736) at least 24 hours in advance of an appointment that you will be unable to keep.

Failure to keep a scheduled appointment with your assigned counselor without prior notification may be interpreted to mean that you are no longer interested in services. Failure to keep subsequent appointments will require special approval from either the director of the Counseling Center or the associate director for clinical services before seeing your counselor.

Because psychiatric services are very costly, failure to keep a scheduled appointment with the psychiatrist without prior notification will result in the loss of your place on the schedule. A second missed appointment without prior notification will result in a loss of eligibility for psychiatric services that, if needed, will mean that you will be required to pay independently for this service. Please note that if you do not keep the regularly scheduled appointment with your counselor, you will not be allowed to schedule with the psychiatrist. The Counseling Center provides psychiatric services only in conjunction with ongoing therapy.

CONFIDENTIALITY
The Counseling Center staff has a strong commitment to keeping the information you share confidential. Beyond our own commitment to confidentiality, Indiana law requires it. The law protects the privacy of all communications between a client/patient and provider of psychological services. In most situations information about your treatment can only be released to others if you sign a written Authorization Form that meets certain legal requirements imposed by Indiana law. However, in the following situations, no authorization is required:

• Your therapist may occasionally find it helpful to consult other health and mental health professionals about a case. During consultations your therapist will make every effort to avoid revealing your identity. Other professionals are also legally bound to keep the information confidential. If you have no objections, your therapist will not inform you of a consultation unless it is important to your work together.

• You should be aware that your therapist practices with other mental health professionals and he/she employs administrative staff. In most cases protected information will be shared with these individuals for both clinical and administrative purposes, such as scheduling and quality assurance. All of the mental health professionals are bound by the same rules of confidentiality. All staff members have been given training about protecting your privacy and have agreed not to release any information outside of the practice without your permission.

• Since the Counseling Center is also a training center, your counselor may be a trainee. All trainees are supervised and their situations will be discussed with their supervisors. The intention of this supervision is to promote the highest quality care. To that end you may be asked by your counselor to have some of your sessions digitally recorded. If you are to be recorded, that process will be discussed with you and your written permission requested. At all times your privacy and care will be treated with the highest regard.

• The Counseling Center has a contract with Communications Network. We have a formal business associate agreement with them in which they promise to maintain the confidentiality of this data except as specifically allowed in the contract or otherwise required by law.

• If you are involved in a court proceeding and a request is made for information concerning the professional services that were provided to you, such information is protected by the psychologist-patient privilege law. Such information will not be provided without your (or your legal representative’s) written authorization or a court order. If you are involved in or contemplating litigation, you should consult with your attorney to determine whether a court would be likely to order the disclosure of this information.

• If a patient files a complaint or lawsuit against an individual therapist or the Counseling Center, relevant information regarding that patient may be disclosed in order for the therapist/agency to defend itself.

There are some situations in which we are legally obligated to take actions, which are believed to be necessary in an attempt to protect others from harm and the center may have to reveal some information about a patient’s treatment. These situations are unusual in the Counseling Center.

• If the center has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect, the law requires that a report be filed with the appropriate government agency, usually the local child protection service. Once such a report is filed, the center may be required to provide additional information.

• If there is reason to believe that someone is an endangered adult, the law requires that a report be filed with the appropriate government agency, usually the adult protective services unit. Once such a report is filed, the center may be required to provide additional information.

• If a patient communicates an actual threat of physical violence against an identifiable victim or evidences conduct or makes statements indicating imminent danger that the patient will use physical violence or other means to cause serious personal injury to others, the center may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include notifying the potential victim, contacting the police, or seeking hospitalization for the patient.

• If a patient communicates an imminent threat of serious physical harm to him/herself, the center may be required to disclose information in order to take protective actions. These actions may include initiating hospitalization or contacting family members or others who can assist in providing protection.

If such a situation arises, every effort will be made to fully discuss it with you before taking any action. Any disclosure of information will be limited to only what is necessary.

While this written summary of exceptions to confidentiality should prove helpful in informing you about potential problems, it is important that you also discuss any questions or concerns that you may have now or in the future with your therapist. The laws governing confidentiality can be quite complex, and in situations where specific advice is required, formal legal advice may be needed.

GROUP PARTICIPATION CONFIDENTIALITY
Participants in center groups are asked to promise to respect the privacy of all other group members by not sharing information from or about other group members. If you have any questions about confidentiality, talk about them with your intake counselor.

RECORDING OF SESSIONS
All therapists who are not Indiana licensed health service providers in the Counseling Center are required by law to be supervised. Therefore, your situation will be discussed with your therapist’s supervisor and your sessions will be recorded for such supervision and for the training needs of your therapist. The intention of supervision (and recording) is to promote the highest quality service to you and to insure for the highest quality trained staff, who offers those services. At all times, your privacy and care will be treated with the highest regard and your confidentiality insured.

PROFESSIONAL RECORDS
The laws and professional standards require that the center keep protected health information about you in your clinical record.

Except in unusual circumstances that disclosure would physically endanger you and/or others, you may examine and/or receive a copy of your clinical record, if you request it in writing. Because these are professional records, they can be misinterpreted and/or upsetting to untrained readers. For this reason, it is recommended that you initially review them with a professional on site, or have them forwarded to another mental health professional so you can discuss the contents.

All protected health information about you is maintained in our professional records. Your clinical record contains information about your reasons for seeking therapy, a description of the ways in which your problem impacts your life, your diagnosis, the goals set for treatment, your progress towards those goals, your medical and social history, your treatment history, any past treatment records that have been received from other providers, reports of any professional consultations, and any reports that have been sent to anyone. Except in unusual circumstances that involve danger to yourself and others, you may examine and/or receive a copy of your clinical record.

PATIENT RIGHTS
As a patient, you have several additional rights with regard to your clinical records and disclosures of protected health information. These rights include: requesting that your therapist amend your record; requesting restrictions on what information from your clinical records is disclosed to others; determining the location to which protected information disclosures are sent; and, having any complaints you make about our policies and procedures recorded in your records. Your therapist will be happy to discuss any of these rights with you.

MINORS & PARENTS
Clients under 18 years of age who are not emancipated should be aware that the law allows parents to examine their child’s clinical record. Because privacy in psychotherapy is often crucial to successful progress, particularly with teenagers, it is Counseling Center policy to request an agreement from parents that they consent to give up their access to their child’s records. If they agree, they will be provided only with general information about the progress of the child’s treatment, and his/her attendance at scheduled sessions. When therapy is complete, a summary of their child’s treatment will be provided. Any other communication will require the child’s authorization, unless it is the therapist’s judgment that the child is in danger or is a danger to someone else, in which case parents will be notified. Before giving parents any information, all matters will be discussed with the client, if possible, and objections he/she may have handled accordingly.