Substitute Senate Bill No. 478

Public Act No. 00-190

An Act Concerning Privileged Communications Between A Patient And A Licensed Professional Counselor.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

(NEW) (a) As used in this section:

(1) "Person" means an individual who consults a professional counselor for purposes of diagnosis or treatment;

(2) "Professional counselor" means an individual licensed as a professional counselor pursuant to chapter 383c of the general statutes;

(3) "Communications" means all oral and written communications and records thereof relating to the diagnosis and treatment of a person between such person and a professional counselor or between a member of such person's family and a professional counselor;

(4) "Consent" means consent given in writing by the person or such person's authorized representative;

(5) "Authorized representative" means (A) an individual empowered by a person to assert the confidentiality of communications which are privileged under this section, or (B) if a person is deceased, the personal representative or next of kin of such person, or (C) if a person is incompetent to assert or waive such person's privileges hereunder, (i) a guardian or conservator who has been or is appointed to act for the person, or (ii) for the purpose of maintaining confidentiality until a guardian or conservator is appointed, the person's nearest relative.

(b) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, a professional counselor shall not disclose any such communications unless the person or the authorized representative of such person consents to waive the privilege and allow such disclosure. The person or the authorized representative of such person may withdraw any consent given under the provisions of this section at any time in writing addressed to the individual with whom or the office in which the original consent was filed. The withdrawal of consent shall not affect communications disclosed prior to notice of the withdrawal.

(c) Consent of the person shall not be required for the disclosure of such person's communications:

(1) If a judge finds that a person, after having been informed that the communications would not be privileged, has made the communications to a professional counselor in the course of a mental health assessment ordered by the court, provided the communications shall be admissible only on issues involving the person's mental health condition;

(2) If, in a civil proceeding, a person introduces such person's mental health condition as an element of the claim or defense of such person or, after a person's death, the condition of such person is introduced by a party claiming or defending through or as a beneficiary of the person, and the judge finds that it is more important to the interests of justice that the communications be disclosed than that the relationship between the person and professional counselor be protected;

(3) Where mandated by any other provision of the general statutes;

(4) Where the professional counselor believes in good faith that the failure to disclose such communication presents a clear and present danger to the health or safety of any individual;

(5) If the professional counselor believes in good faith that there is risk of imminent personal injury to the person or to other individuals or risk of imminent injury to the property of other individuals;

(6) If child abuse, abuse of an elderly individual or abuse of an individual who is disabled or incompetent is known or in good faith suspected; or

(7) Where a professional counselor makes a claim for collection of fees for services rendered, the name and address of the person and the amount of the fees may be disclosed to individuals or agencies involved in such collection, provided notification that such disclosure will be made is sent, in writing, to the person not less than thirty days prior to such disclosure. In cases where a dispute arises over the fees or claims or where additional information is needed to substantiate the claim, the disclosure of further information shall be limited to the following: (A) That the person was in fact receiving professional counseling, (B) the dates of such services, and (C) a general description of the types of services.

Approved June 1, 2000