People who suffer from mental disorders sometimes require counseling sessions with a psychologist. Some St. Louis mental health professionals create special records known as psychotherapy notes, which help psychologists conceptualize the cases of their patients. As explained by Good Therapy, HIPAA forbids a patient from accessing these notes, as they are intended for the psychologist alone. This prohibition also applies if you apply for Social Security Disability.
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, the privacy protections granted to psychotherapy notes are recognized by the SSA. The reason for these protections is because psychotherapy notes contain the personal thoughts of a psychologist toward the case of a patient, including analysis of patient conversations. The content of these notes may not be appropriate for a medical record and could embarrass or harm the patient if revealed.
However, this prohibition against disclosing psychotherapy notes applies only if the notes are kept separate from the rest of the medical record. If they are not, a psychologist can send in the full medical record of a patient with the notes included, but black out the portions considered to be psychotherapy notes. Additionally, a psychologist can compose a report that describes the vital aspects of the treatment of a patient, such as long term prospects, and the current functional state of the patient.
People can feel understandably sensitive about revealing their mental problems to a psychologist, but it is important for anyone in this situation to know that the law protects their privacy. Since the SSA does not make providing your psychotherapy notes a requirement for disability coverage, a person can apply for disability for a variety of mental health disorders, like bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia, without needing to disclose psychotherapy analysis.