Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. Definitions; General Provisions.


§ 7–1201.01. Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter:

(1) “Administrative information” means a client’s name, age, sex, address, identifying number or numbers, dates and character of sessions (individual or group), and fees.

(2) “Client” means any individual who receives or has received professional services from a mental health professional in a professional capacity.

(3) “Client representative” means an individual specifically authorized by the client in writing or by the court as the legal representative of that client.

(4) “Data collector” means a person other than the client, mental health professional and mental health facility who regularly engages, in whole or in part, in the practice of assembling or evaluating client mental health information.

(5) “Diagnostic information” means a therapeutic characterization which is of the type that is found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association or any comparable professionally recognized diagnostic manual.

(6) “Disclose” means to communicate any information in any form (written, oral or recorded).

(7) “Group session” means the provision of professional services jointly to more than 1 client in a mental health facility.

(8) “Insurance transaction” means whenever a decision (be it adverse or otherwise) is rendered regarding an individual’s eligibility for an insurance benefit or service.

(8A) “Joint consent” means a process established by the Department of Mental Health pursuant to § 7-1131.14(6) to enable all participating providers to rely on a single form in which a consumer of mental health services consents to the use of his or her protected mental health information by participating providers in the Department of Mental Health’s organized health care arrangement, for the purposes of delivering treatment, obtaining payment for services and supports rendered, and performing certain administrative operations, such as quality assurance, utilization review, accreditation, and oversight.

(9) “Mental health information” means any written, recorded or oral information acquired by a mental health professional in attending a client in a professional capacity which:

(A) Indicates the identity of a client; and

(B) Relates to the diagnosis or treatment of a client’s mental or emotional condition.

(10) “Mental health facility” means any hospital, clinic, office, nursing home, infirmary, provider as defined in § 7-1131.02(27), or similar entity where professional services are provided.

(11) “Mental health professional” means any of the following persons engaged in the provision of professional services:

(A) A person licensed to practice medicine;

(B) A person licensed to practice psychology;

(C) A licensed social worker;

(D) A professional marriage, family, or child counselor;

(E) A rape crisis or sexual abuse counselor who has undergone at least 40 hours of training and is under the supervision of a licensed social worker, nurse, psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychotherapist;

(F) A licensed nurse who is a professional psychiatric nurse; or

(G) Any person reasonably believed by the client to be a mental health professional within the meaning of subparagraphs (A) through (F) of this paragraph.

(11A) “Organized health care arrangement” means an organized system of health care in which more than one provider participates, and in which the participating providers hold themselves out to the public as participating in a joint arrangement, and either:

(A) Participate in joint activities that include utilization review under Chapter 8 of Title 44, in which health care decisions by participating providers are reviewed by other participating providers or by a third party on their behalf; or

(B) Participate in quality assessment and improvement activities under Chapter 8 of Title 44, in which mental health services or mental health supports provided by participating providers are assessed by other participating providers or by a third party on their behalf.

(11B) “Participating provider” means a provider of mental health services or mental health supports who, through participation in the joint consent promulgated by the Department of Mental Health pursuant to § 7-1131.14(6), joins the organized health care arrangement created by the Department of Mental Health.

(12) “Person” means any governmental organization or agency or part thereof, individual, firm, partnership, copartnership, association or corporation.

(13) “Personal notes” means mental health information regarding a client which is limited to:

(A) Mental health information disclosed to the mental health professional in confidence by other persons on condition that such information not be disclosed to the client or other persons; and

(B) The mental health professional’s speculations.

(14) “Professional services” means any form of diagnosis or treatment relating to a mental or emotional condition that is provided by a mental health professional.

(15) “Third-party payor” means any person who provides accident and sickness benefits or medical, surgical or hospital benefits whether on an indemnity, reimbursement, service or prepaid basis, including, but not limited to, insurance carriers, governmental agencies and employers.


(Mar. 3, 1979, D.C. Law 2-136, § 101, 25 DCR 5055; Mar. 25, 1986, D.C. Law 6-99, § 1101(b), 33 DCR 729; July 22, 1992, D.C. Law 9-126, § 3, 39 DCR 3824; May 23, 1995, D.C. Law 10-257, § 401(a), 42 DCR 53; Dec. 18, 2001, D.C. Law 14-56, § 116(f)(1), 48 DCR 7674.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2001.

1973 Ed., § 6-1611.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 4-1321.02, § 7-1201.04, § 12-301, § 14-307, § 16-2333.01, § 21-522, § 21-527, § 21-562, § 21-2047, and § 44-301.06.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 14-56 added pars. (8A), (11A), and (11B); and inserted “provider as defined in § 7-1131.02(27),” after “infirmary,” in par. (10).

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 16(f)(1) of Department of Mental Health Establishment Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-55, May 2, 2001, 48 DCR 4390).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 16(f)(1) of Department of Mental Health Establishment Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-101, July 23, 2001, 48 DCR 7123).

For temporary (90 day) amendment of section, see § 116(f)(1) of Mental Health Service Delivery Reform Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2001 (D.C. Act 14-144, October 23, 2001, 48 DCR 9947).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 2(a) of D.C. Mental Health Information Act of 1978 Temporary Amendment Act of 1986 (D.C. Law 6-174, February 24, 1987, law notification 34 DCR 1710).

For temporary (225 day) amendment of section, see § 16(f)(1) of Department of Mental Health Establishment Temporary Amendment Act of 2001 (D.C. Law 14-51, October 30, 2001, law notification 48 DCR 10807).


§ 7–1201.02. Disclosures prohibited; exceptions.

(a) Except as specifically authorized by subchapter II, III, or IV of this chapter, no mental health professional, mental health facility, data collector or employee or agent of a mental health professional, mental health facility or data collector shall disclose or permit the disclosure of mental health information to any person, including an employer.

(b) Except as specifically authorized by subchapter II or IV of this chapter, no client in a group session shall disclose or permit the disclosure of mental health information relating to another client in the group session to any person.

(c) No violation of subsection (a) or (b) of this section occurs until a single act or series of acts taken together amount to a disclosure of mental health information.


(Mar. 3, 1979, D.C. Law 2-136, § 102, 25 DCR 5055.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2002.

1973 Ed., § 6-1612.

Transfer of Functions

Pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 5 of 1996, the function of providing mental health services to inmates in Department of Corrections facilities provided by the Bureau of Correctional Services, Commission on Mental Health Services, were transferred to the Department of Corrections.


§ 7–1201.03. Personal notes.

If a mental health professional makes personal notes regarding a client, such personal notes shall not be maintained as a part of the client’s record of mental health information. Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, access to such personal notes shall be strictly and absolutely limited to the mental health professional and shall not be disclosed except to the degree that the personal notes or the information contained therein are needed in litigation brought by the client against the mental health professional on the grounds of professional malpractice or disclosure in violation of this section.


(Mar. 3, 1979, D.C. Law 2-136, § 103, 25 DCR 5055.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2003.

1973 Ed., § 6-1613.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 7-1205.01.


§ 7–1201.04. General rules governing disclosures.

(a) Upon disclosure of any of the client’s mental health information pursuant to subchapter II, III, or IV of this chapter, a notation shall be entered and maintained with the client’s record of mental health information which includes:

(1) The date of the disclosure;

(2) The name of the recipient of the mental health information; and

(3) A description of the contents of the disclosure.

(b) All disclosures of mental health information, except on an emergency basis as provided in § 7-1203.03, shall be accompanied by a statement to the effect that: The unauthorized disclosure of mental health information violates the provisions of the District of Columbia Mental Health Information Act of 1978 (§§ 7-1201.01 to 7-1207.02). Disclosures may only be made pursuant to a valid authorization by the client or as provided in title III or IV of that Act. The Act provides for civil damages and criminal penalties for violations.


(Mar. 3, 1979, D.C. Law 2-136, § 104, 25 DCR 5055.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 6-2004.

1973 Ed., § 6-1614.