Most therapists wonder not only how long they should keep their records, but what should they keep after the time when they are allowed to eliminate, destroy, or shred the records.
How long should I keep the records?
Retain records as long as it is legally mandated or, when applicable, take into consideration institutional requirements, professional organizations’ guidelines, professional codes of ethics, or other relevant mandates. The length of time obviously varies among states and type of license. For example, psychologists, MFTs and SWs in CA should keep adult records for at least 7 years. (More info at California Law for Records Retention). Check with your licensing board, state law, institution’s guidelines, or your state professional association regarding the length of time that you must keep records. Note that the record retention period may be different for adults vs. children.
Should I keep the records longer than the minimum required period?
Generally, there are no legal requirements to maintain any records beyond the required time. However, therapists must take into consideration the context of therapy and the potential need for records in the future, as well as the potential risk of maintaining outdated or obsolete records for long periods of time.
What should I keep after the mandated time?
If you have decided that there is no clinical, legal, or other reason to keep records after the mandated period of time, then, unless it is required otherwise, there is no mandate to keep any records, not even names, summary, or dates of service.
Free updated Record Keeping Guidelines