How do I obtain a copy of my child's file?
You can request access to a client's records as long as you are authorised to obtain such access. It is essential to distinguish between two components of the client record.
- The ‘Confidential Client File’ (sometimes called ‘practitioner notes’), and
- The ‘Client Service Record” (sometimes called ‘client/unit record’).
Confidential Client File
This is the sensitive material which may contain confidential, sometimes very intimate, information about the client and even about third parties (such as partners, parents, or children); it may also include diagnostic material created by the practitioner which may be private to the practitioner. This file may also contain test records, formal treatment plans or evaluations, or a formal medico-legal report. This is the material about which our obligations for providing client privacy under the Code of Ethics are most relevant. Under some state and territory Acts, a client may have qualified access to this part of the record or file.
Client Service Record
This is the less sensitive section (largely administrative material) and includes dates and nature of service, basic client demographics and contact details, formal correspondence with third parties, and perhaps store accounts and standard administrative forms. A brief summary for the team or referrer may also be stored here as such reports are often shared with other professionals already, although this may be open to variation. In the public or NGO sector, this is equivalent to the institutional or organisational unit record where practitioners may record dates of sessions, progress comments or other material that other practitioners, other than psychologists, need to know.
A client may ask a Quirky Kid Psychologist for access to their records. A Quirky Kid Psychologist will facilitate access to permissible sections of the material. The complete record is not necessarily relevant to such a request. There are a number of options available to a psychologist in providing access. The file and its content is the property of Quirky Kid, not the client.
- Teleconference: this is the most suitable option for providing information to a third party, such as a school counsellor or psychologist. This is also recommended for when a client has moved away.
- Clinical meeting: the client and psychologist meet to read the material and, if necessary, discuss what has been written.
- Summary report, or
- A copy of the material to the client.
To request a copy of the file, you must attend the clinic in person or provide us with a verified photo ID.
Access by courts
A psychologist’s records may be subpoenaed by courts of law or obtained under warrant by law enforcement authorities. The psychologist must comply with such requests. However, in conjunction with the provision of the subpoenaed material, the psychologist may make a written request of the court to withhold some or all of the confidential material from access by the court if it is highly sensitive information and has no bearing on the case. Such a request will usually be heard by the court on the day the material is due to be submitted. The principle here is the protection of the client or a third party from harm or unwarranted intrusion. See When the Subpoena Comes on the APS website.
There is a cost to provide a copy of the material to a client. The cost is specified on our Schedule of Fees.