Last Updated: 11 August 2021
Welcome to The Therapy Centre. This document outlines The Therapy Centre’s privacy practices and policies, and provides information about confidentiality and laws related to the collection, use and disclosure of your personal health information while engaged in services through our organization.
Who We Are:
The Therapy Centre is composed of a team of psychologists and psychological associates, social workers, therapists, a dietitian and administrative personnel. We are a group of healthcare professionals and support staff that provides care to those who seek treatment through our clinic. We also work with consultants or agencies that may, in the course of their duties, have limited access to personal health information in our possession.
What is Personal Health Information?
Personal health information is data that can be used to identify a person and details of their healthcare. This may include contact information (e.g., name, address, telephone number, e-mail address), personal characteristics (e.g., age, gender, cultural/ethnic background), and health details (e.g., presenting issues, health history, medical/mental health conditions, treatments being received).
Collection and Use of Personal Health Information:
In order to provide healthcare services, The Therapy Centre will collect some personal health information about you. We may also ask you to complete questionnaires or other self-report tests to enable a better understanding of your health-related function and treatment needs.
The primary purpose of collecting this information is so we may:
- Evaluate your health-related needs;
- Recommend appropriate treatment options; and
- Provide therapy and related healthcare.
Third party payers, when applicable, may request specific information about your healthcare:
- 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); and
- 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.
Electronic Communication of Personal Health Information (“E-mail”)
Disclosure of Personal Health Information
Access to Your Personal Health Information & Requests for Correction
Storage and Destruction of Personal Health Information
Questions and Complaints
Electronic Communication of Personal Health Information (“E-mail”):
The Therapy Centre offers e-mail communication as a method of contact between yourself and our clinic. We use e-mail to provide appointment confirmations and reminders, and to send invoices for services rendered. We may also use e-mail to communicate with you about appointment bookings and cancellations if we cannot reach you by telephone (or if you request we use e-mail as a primary method of contact).
E-mail is convenient and efficient; however, communicating by e-mail also encompasses risks that should also be considered.
E-mail is not recognized as a secure form of communication. Risks of transmitting your information by e-mail include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The privacy and security of e-mail communication cannot be guaranteed;
- E-mail is easier to falsify than phone, fax or mail. It is also impossible to verify the true identity of the sender, or to ensure that only the recipient can read the e-mail once it has been sent;
- E-mail can introduce viruses into a computer system, and potentially damage or disrupt the computer;
- E-mail can be forwarded, intercepted, circulated, stored, or even changed without the knowledge or permission of the sender or recipient. E-mail senders can easily misaddress an e-mail, resulting in it being sent to unintended and unknown recipients; and
- E-mail creates a permanent record. Even after the sender and recipient have deleted their copies of the e-mail, back-up copies may exist on a computer or in cyberspace.
We will use reasonable means to protect the security and confidentiality of e-mail information sent and received. However, because of the risks outlined above, we cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of e-mail communication.
Consent to the use of e-mail indicates your agreement with the following conditions:
- E-mails from you containing clinically relevant information may be printed in full and made part of your clinical record. Because these would become part of your clinical record, other individuals authorized to access the clinical record will have access to those e-mails;
- We will make reasonable efforts to read and respond to e-mails promptly. However, we cannot guarantee that any particular e-mail will be read and responded to within any particular period of time. Therefore, e-mail should not be used for emergencies or other time-sensitive matters;
- E-mail communication is not an appropriate substitute for treatment. You are responsible for following up with us to schedule appointments, where warranted; and
- If your e-mail requests a response from us and you have not received a response within a reasonable time period, it is your responsibility to follow up to confirm we did indeed receive your e-mail.
E-mail should not be used to discuss sensitive personal health information, such as that related to mental health, disability or substance use. Therefore, we will not discuss such matters over e-mail.
E-mail communication is voluntary. Please advise us if you do not wish to engage in e-mail communication, and we will remove your e-mail address from our system.
Tele-Services (Virtual and Telephone-based Sessions):
The Therapy Centre offers in-person, virtual (video) and telephone-based options for assessment and treatment services. Virtual and telephone-based sessions are also mental health services, and these have the same purpose or intention as treatment sessions (or psychotherapy) that are conducted face-to-face at The Therapy Centre. Your Clinician will discuss which mode of service is recommended based on your needs, and changes can be made throughout the course of your treatment with respect to the mode of therapy you both decide to use.
Virtual care is offered through the Janeapp videoconferencing platform. Janeapp videoconferencing meets Canadian privacy laws and is privacy-compliant. Virtual care requires the use of a webcam or smartphone, and a link to the virtual session will be provided by e-mail prior to the session. We highly recommend you test your video/audio settings the day before your session, and contact Janeapp’s tech support for assistance if needed. In the event of technical problems during your session, a back-up plan (e.g., a phone number where you can be reached) will be used to restart the session or to reschedule it. Your Clinician may 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.
Virtual and telephone-based sessions are convenient and may be used when in-person sessions are not possible. 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 provided in the “Disclosure of Personal Health Information” section below.
- You have the right to withdraw your consent at any time. It will not affect your right to further treatment.
- 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.
Disclosure of Personal Health Information:
In accordance with the laws, professional standards, and ethical codes we follow, the information you share with The Therapy Centre remains confidential. This means your information will not be disclosed to anyone without your consent, with the exception of the specific situations outlined below.
Your information may be released without your consent in the following situations:
- Harm to Self / Others
If there is reason to believe that you are in danger of harming yourself or others in ways that may be life-threatening, The Therapy Centre is ethically obliged to take action to ensure your safety and/or the safety of others. These steps may include contacting your identified emergency contact person, a family member or close other, seeking hospitalization, contacting the police, notifying others at risk, or some combination of these actions to ensure you and/or others are protected.
- Abuse / Neglect
If there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a child under 16 years of age is, or may be, in need of protection, The Therapy Centre must, by law, report this information to a children’s aid society. Examples of reportable situations include physical harm/abuse, sexual abuse, emotional harm (e.g., verbal abuse, humiliation, witnessing violence), or a pattern of neglect or failure to protect a child from harm.
Additionally, if there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a resident of a nursing, retirement or other long-term care home has suffered harm, or is at risk of harm due to improper or incompetent treatment or care, unlawful conduct, abuse or neglect, or possible misuse or misappropriation of the resident’s money or funding, The Therapy Centre is required to report this information to the Registrar of the Retirement Homes Regulatory Authority, or long-term care home director.
- Sexual Abuse by a Regulated Health Professional
If there are reasonable grounds to believe that another regulated health professional has sexually harassed or abused a client, The Therapy Centre must, by law, report this health professional’s name and information related to the sexual abuse to the appropriate regulatory body.
- Court Order
Our records can be subpoenaed by a court order and The Therapy Centre may be required to testify and give information obtained during the course of any assessment and treatment sessions. This information would never be provided voluntarily without your direct request or permission without the court order.
It is important to note that as registered healthcare professionals, we may also be required to make our files available for audit by our regulatory body (e.g., College of Psychologists of Ontario), third-party payer agencies (if applicable, e.g., Financial Services Commission of Ontario) or by the government. These audits are confidential, and a record of the audit will be inserted into your client file.
- Missing Persons
If the police present a Court Order, Search Warrant or Urgent Demand for records related to a missing person, The Therapy Centre is required to provide the information and/or records sought by police in order to assist with locating that missing person.
Access to Your Personal Health Information & Requests for Correction:
With a few exceptions, you have the right to access or amend your personal health information. This means that you may request to read clinical notes in your file, ask for corrections to be made to factual information, and for a copy of your health information.
In these cases, your clinician will review the clinical notes with you and can help you understand any information that is not clear (e.g., short-forms, technical terms, etc.). Copies of your file will take time to provide due to the busy nature of our clinic – we will provide an estimate of the timeframe and cost when your request is made.
If we cannot give you access, we will advise you in writing within 30 days if possible, and will outline the reason, as best we can, as to why we cannot give you access.
Storage and Destruction of Personal Health Information:
A record containing your personal health information and information about your therapy sessions and other materially relevant interactions are maintained in a secured place while you are engaged in The Therapy Centre’s services.
We are required to retain your personal health information for a period of 10 years after our last contact with you (for adults) or 10 years after you turn 18 years of age (for children), whichever is later. Any personal health information that is stored electronically is protected by appropriate security measures (e.g., PHIPA-compliant software that includes bank-level encryption). After 10 years, your personal information is destroyed in a secure manner that protects your privacy.
Your Clinician maintains responsibility for your client file. If your Clinician leaves The Therapy Centre, your file will stay with them and a copy will be retained by The Therapy Centre.
Questions and Complaints:
If you have any questions about our privacy practices and procedures, we encourage you to contact us:
Dr. Jenn Deffendall
Director of Clinical Services
The Therapy Centre
2525 Old Bronte Road, Suite 300, Oakville, ON L6M 4J2
Tel: (289) 291-0205
Fax: (289) 291-0207
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
110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 500 Toronto, Ontario M4R 1A3
Tel: (416) 961-8817 or (800) 489-8388
Fax: (416) 961-2635
The College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario
375 University Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5G 2J5
Tel: (416) 479-4330
Fax: (416) 639-2168
The Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers
250 Bloor Street East, Suite 1000, Toronto, Ontario M4W 1E6
Tel: (416) 972-9882
Fax: (416) 972-1512
The College of Dietitians of Ontario
5775 Yonge Street, Suite 1810, Box 30, Toronto, Ontario M2M 4J1
Tel: (416) 598-1725 or (800) 668-4990
Fax: (416) 598-0274
Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario
2 Bloor Street East, Suite 1400, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 1A8
Tel: (416) 326-3333 or (800) 387-0073
Fax: (416) 325-9195