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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Having Technical Difficulties?!?!?!

Confidentiality means that any information that is revealed within a professional relationship cannot be disclosed, unless it falls under the limitations of possibly hurting oneself or others. As future school psychologists, we will have an ethical and professional obligation to the confidentiality rights of our future clients and to ensure that their privacy rights are met. However, with the increasing technological advances confidentiality is said to be threatened. With new ideas in regards to computerized record keeping and electronic systems and transmissions to record and monitor varying student behaviors and progress, how can we completely ensure that confidentiality rights are being protected?

Yes – I do believe that as psychologists of new generations we have an obligation to be up to date with the technological advances that occur, including the understanding of technological languages and online slang, the uses of blogs, networking sites, and the online communicating options.
However, with the need for confidentiality and the technological advances, is it safe to say that confidentiality is not being compromised with the rise in technological competencies?
This blog was created by Angelica Cunha.


Tahina said...

I feel that even though thre are major advances in technology, confidentiality can still be breached. More policies have to be put into place to protect clients, especially in the mental health field.
I currently work for the New Jersey Department of Corrections as a drug and alcohol counselor. I have 30 men on my caseload. None of their information is confidential. Anyone can go to the NJDOC website and find out what prison they are in, what's their charge, how much prison time they have, etc. Of course, I understand that once they committed these crimes they have lost many priveleges. In addition, at the level where I work, our computer system allows for anyone with a company password to log-on, go into their "file" and see notes entered by the counselor. Information such as chronic medical issues (depression, bi-polar disorder, and AIDS), and family history can easily be seen. This is a major concern for me because of the the HIPAA confidentiality policy.
Since I am new to this field, I still have not decided whether or not the convicted felons I deal with have the same privacy rights as an indvidual paying a private psychologist for services. I feel that both have private concerns that should not be compromised. So where do we draw the line?

Jessica S said...

Was it ever really confidential to begin with though?
I mean, I do understand where you are coming from, but I feel that if something is written down, either on paper or electronically, that it is never %100 safe.
Yes, there is always the danger of someone "hacking in" to computer systems. But really, it's not that common. I'd be more worried about school staff saying more than they should.
I do worry about confidentiality though, especially when it comes to Facebook and the like. Kids post things on there that maybe they shouldn't and what can happen is that the wrong people can have access to information about the child, like a pedophile or a bully. As school psychologists, we need to be very aware of these dangers and educate parents about parental control settings and the like.

Jess S said...

I agree with the fact that technology is really changing the way people must conduct themselves in numerous situations, inside and outside the school. As we talked about in class we are in an age of digital everything, like recorders and cameras and cell phones. No matter where you go or what you do there is a possibility that what you say or do can be captured. The notion of this happening is quite scary, especially when it comes to mental health or even our very own classroom. When we are in situations were students or clients or even peers may divulge very private information about themselves it is our responsibility as future school psychologists to make sure the environment is as safe as possible. To do this we be make sure that no other person has a handheld recorder and do our best to keep what we know confidential. I do not think that we can ever be 100% sure that nothing will happen but we must at least make our best effort as times are changing.

Tjasa said...


I have actually been on that website some time ago and yes, one can find out any information on any individual who has committed serious crimes in the State of New Jersey (for most offenders their pictures are posted). I think it is a great idea that any citizen can go onto that site and check whether certain suspicious people or their neighbors are on it. When someone commits a crime, his or her confidentiality goes out of the window. Since those men that you work with have committed serious crimes, they do not have any rights to confidentiality. If I were a parent, I would want to know whether anyone in my neighborhood has committed any crimes to help ensure the safety of my kids. For example, I have found numerous people on that site who are in prison or on parole since they were distributing drugs on school property! Pretty scary isn’t it?


There was a case recently where a woman's name and picture where stolen and someone started posing as her on Facebook. Posting any personal information on sites like Facebook and MySpace is not really recommended since anyone can hack into your account and steal your identity.

Angelica said...

I definitely agree that we can never be 100% secure that confidentiality won't be breached through other sources. However, it will be our jobs to do whatever is in our reach to help those children who are in need.

In regards to the record keeping, it is true that anyone can have access to computer systems within that environment, especially if that individual is savy with computers and with obtaining information. I think that the most we can do as future professionals is to become computer literate so we can try to protect our personal files of individual clients possibly with some encryptic coding or password to prevent other workers from having access to those personal records.

In regards to networking sites and to personal inforation being stolen, yes it can happy, but it can also happen through credit cards and other sources as well.
We should be really focusing on these rapid changes and coming up with ways so we can be well-prepared for the future changes that will continue to occur. We need to be well equiped with technological terms and ideas so we can better protect the generations of tomorrow from the internet.

For example, let's suppose one of our future clients is a 9 year old boy who has both a myspace and a facebook account.. Let's suppose he is being bullied at school and now the bullying has also extended into cyber bullying. If we ourselves are not tuned into and aware of the various gadgets involved with myspace and facebook how would we protect him against this? How can we teach him to protect himself? How would we protect other children with the same or worse situations? We definitely need to be well aware and informed so we too can not only protect these children but also inform their parents and family members so they too can keep an eye out to these various occurrences.

Tami said...

I agree with a lot of the issues brought up regarding technology and confidentiality. Technology is rapidly advances as time goes on, and it is very important for us as future school psychologists to be up to date with these advances. However, I agree with Angelica that these technological advances may compromise confidentiality, and we may never be 100% secure from this. It then becomes our job to make sure we take every precaution in keeping our clients' information confidential. I also agree with what Jessica said about information written down, and that we can never be sure it is 100% safe. Although the rising technological advances may breech confidentiality, I feel is it necessary to keep up with technology, as well as put our best foot forward in protecting personal information of our clients.

Desiree Antas said...

There is always the possibility that someone can find our files whether it be written or stored on a computer. However, it is our obligation to keep files of our clients to save our own ass. If we neglect to save crucial information on a client and have to go to court we are screwed. You can’t worry what if what if. If you lived like that in all aspects of life what kind of life would you live? Is possible? Sure it is, but is it likely? Probably not. I think it is great that we have come thus far with technology and that we have endless information at our fingertips. If we ponder about anything we can simply look it up on the internet and become informed. I believe since a lot of us store things electronically that we should just be more careful. If you are aware and educated about the potential dangers of “internet predators” it is less likely that your information on a client will be revealed. Knowledge is power. It is our obligation to learn how to use the internet wisely and safely and to spread the word and inform parents and students. This is another facet of the changing face of school psychology.

Laura M said...

How can we be sure confidentiality is not breeched now? The main concern regarding confidentiality and computerized record keeping is that someone will hack into the site and access confidential files. The only thing that can be done is to ensure the security of the site. What else can we do? I don't see a future in which computerized files do not exist. Technology moves forward - it can't be avoided and I think keeping actual paper files will become obsolete, so someone had better come up with a plan.
Another concern is that people from insurance companies will have too much access to personal information - but I guess some kind of plan will have to be put in place whereby only required information is accessible. For example, an individual's files should be broken down into sections and different agencies should need different types of clearance to access the various parts of a person's file. In this way some type of privacy is ensured.

Roxane N. said...

I feel like you just have to be careful. I guess someone could 'hack' into a system, but they could also break into a file cabinet just as easily. I feel like as long as you lock your computer, don't leave thing laying around, pay attention to who you are cc'ing on the email.. it is no more threatening than paper files. I feel like files are easier to safeguard than keeping inappropriate comments to a minimum. Teacher's and all other staff members involved shouldn't be complaining or disclosing children's behavior problems, diagnosis, IEP's, etc. to other teachers. I anticipate a lot of staff members are going to be asking us what went on in a counseling session or meeting is going to be very difficult for the first few months you are in a new school because you are going to have to establish ground rules and many of them aren't going to like it.