Confidentiality of Clients’ Information
- In any instance in which a client is mentioned in a classroom or class assignment, whether in a brief vignette, oral or written case presentation, or any other manner, the following assurances of confidentiality must be observed:
- The names of persons who are clients, clients’ family members, agency personnel, and any other persons in their environments must be disguised so that they will not be recognizable.
- If the configuration of personal or family characteristics is such that it could render person(s) identifiable (age, family size or composition, race, occupation, handicap, etc.), some aspects of the configuration must be altered. Aspects least detrimental to understanding of the situation should be altered, but when there is doubt, the principle of confidentiality must take precedence over completeness in every detail.
- The specific place of work or schooling of clients should not be mentioned unless it is essential to the case and the entity is so large and the person’s other characteristics are sufficiently nonspecific that he/she cannot be identified.
- Any discussion about clients in the classroom takes place in the context of professional learning and teaching. As such, it is protected by the social work profession’s ethics regarding confidentiality. Such content should never be discussed outside the classroom except with professional colleagues and then only for learning purposes.
- Any written materials or tapes regarding clients must be prepared, used, and stored so as to ensure clients’ privacy. For tapes to be used in the classroom, clients’ permission must be gained in writing before taping may take place. Procedures used must be in conformity with University rules and regulations as well as with those of the student’s practicum agency. Responsibility to see to it that no one has access to such materials, except for legitimate professional purposes, rests with each student and faculty member.
- A breach of the policy regarding confidentiality shall be considered a violation of professional ethics and academic misconduct.