This resource document was prepared by the Committee on Confidentiality with revisions by the Council on Psychiatry and the Law.
Approved by the Board of Trustees, March 2002
Approved by the Assembly, May 2001
The Final HIPPA Privacy Rule defines psychotherapy notes as an official record, created for use by the mentalhealth professional for treatment, “recorded in any medium…documenting or analyzing the contents of conversation during a private counseling session or a group, joint or family counseling session that are separated from the rest of the individual’s medical record...” 45 C.F.R. § 164.501 (65 Fed. Reg. at 82805) (emphasis added). The Rule does not protect psychotherapy notes when defending a malpractice suit brought by a patient or for satisfying documentation requirements of a licensing authority because it allows disclosure without authorization for these purposes. Save for very few other exceptions (1), “psychotherapy notes” cannot be disclosed to anyone without the patient’s specific authorization. Furthermore, such authorization cannot be compelled for payment, underwriting, or plan enrollment (emphasis added).