Center for Student Counseling & Development
Welcome to Stellenbosch University

Confidentiality


1.      INTRODUCTION

The functioning of the Centre for Student Counselling and Development (CSCD) is guided by the principles of ethical practice of the following professional bodies:

  • Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA)
  • South African Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP)

The following national legislation also applies:

Respecting clients'[1] right to confidentiality serves as the pillar of ethical conduct at the CSCD. Staff who are not registered[2] with a professional body commit to confidentiality by signing an official agreement in this regard.

Clients and their information are always treated with respect and confidentiality. This means that no-one – including parents, relatives, lecturers and other third parties – would be notified that a client utilised the services of the CSCD or be able to access the information that the client shared with a CSCD practitioner. The only exceptions to this rule would be when a client is suicidal, homicidal, psychotic or poses a danger to others. Deviating from the ethics rules in these instances is sanctioned by the HPCSA.

Confidentiality is an important ethics principle that should always be respected by both client and practitioner in any therapeutic/counselling relationship. If not, clients may feel compromised when utilising the CSCD's services. While confidentiality will be honoured in a group context as well by requiring all participants to sign a confidentiality agreement, the CSCD cannot be held accountable for the actions of individual participants.


2.      RECORD-KEEPING

Clients' records[3] are stored on HealthOne, an electronic database that was designed specifically for this purpose. The CSCD has implemented every possible measure to ensure the safekeeping of records. All confidential matters are treated with the utmost care. Access to the database is password-protected. Records are retained on the electronic database for five years, after which they are destroyed.


3.      THIRD-PARTY REQUESTS

Clients may be referred to the CSCD by lecturers, parents, family members and significant others. A referral by a third party does not entitle such third party to gain access to the client's information. Access to information is allowed only with the client's written informed consent.

3.1   If the client grants consent

Before information is shared, the client will be afforded the opportunity to peruse it in the presence of the therapist or practitioner. In case of third-party requests for information regarding mandatory counselling, the principle of transparency applies: A third party must inform the client from the outset that it will be requesting selected information from the CSCD, and must therefore ensure that the client is fully aware of its relationship and communication with the CSCD. Information will be shared on a need-to-know basis and in line with the purpose for which it is requested.

3.2   If the client does not grant consent

Should a client refuse consent, no information will be shared with any party. However, if the CSCD is subpoenaed by court, it may provide information under duress, although the client must be informed.


NOTE:

  • The CSCD does not conduct any forensic assessments.
  • Clients' information will not be disseminated for research without their written consent and formal ethics clearance.



[1] Students.

[2] Including receptionists and administrative staff.

[3] Biographical details, process notes, reports and letters.​