Will my parents find out?
If you are considered capable of making your own medical decisions, then you have a right to doctor-patient confidentiality. The law considers you capable if you understand the following:
- The need for a medical treatment
- What the treatment involves
- The benefits and risks if you get or don’t get the treatment
Doctor-patient confidentiality means a doctor or health care provider can’t talk to your parents, guardian or anyone else about your medical care unless you agree (but there are other exceptions, see below). That means the things you tell the doctor, what he or she says to you, and what treatment you have is private: it’s just between you and the doctor.
This is the same for counsellors, including school counsellors. It’s a good idea to check with a health practitioner or counsellor first to make sure that they will respect your confidentiality.
Exceptions to confidentiality
There are a few situations when a health practitioner or counsellor can tell others what you have said in a confidential meeting:
- You tell the health practitioner or counsellor he or she can tell someone else (you give consent).
- The health practitioner or counsellor has a good reason to think you might harm yourself or someone else.
- The health practitioner or counsellor has reason to believe that you might be in need of protection.
A counsellor might also share information with other professionals if he or she thinks it will help them to help you. Sometimes a school counsellor might be required to share private records if the law requires it (for example, if they are ordered by a court).