Counseling Center

Counseling Center Policy on Confidentiality

 Amherst College campus
We take the confidentiality of our work very seriously. We consider your choice to come to the Counseling Center to be your own business. If you would like your visits here to be made public in any way, that will be up to you. For example, we are willing to speak with parents, but only with your permission. In addition, we do not get involved in student-related administrative decisions, including issues like course extensions or room changes, except in very rare instances, and in these cases we would discuss the situation ahead of time with the student. This practice is ultimately beneficial for you, since you can trust that what you share with us will be kept entirely confidential.

There are no outside records of your visits here, and our own records are destroyed in a reasonable period of time (currently, seven years after graduation). However, there are still some agencies and institutions that might ask on their application forms whether you have been in counseling or psychotherapy (these include the Peace Corps, the C.I.A., state bar associations and some medical and graduate schools). We consider it your right to evaluate the situation and decide what you want to say.

If you tell these organizations that you have been in counseling, they are likely to ask your permission to seek information from your counselor or therapist; but be assured that no outside agency will know about your contact with us unless you give them and us your explicit permission. With outside agencies, we use a form letter that acknowledges your experience with counseling at Amherst without revealing any details. You may choose what level of information is released. In every instance, we do not reveal details about our work except to a counselor or therapist who is currently working with you.

Within the Counseling Center, we do talk to each other about our work, but no information will be given to anyone outside the Center without your permission—except in one circumstance. We are required by law and professional ethics to intervene when in our judgment there is imminent risk of serious injury to the student or to others (specifically suicide, assault and child or elder abuse).  In situations where someone is at risk of serious physical injury, confidentiality must take second place. Even then, you can expect that when at all possible, we would discuss the alternatives with you before taking any action that might breach confidentiality.

If you have any questions about this policy, please raise them with your counselor immediately.