Continuing Education & Resources for Mental Health Professionals

Ethical Information

Informed Consent Discussions in Couple & Family & Child Therapy

(Couple, Family, or Child Therapy with Parent Consultation)

  A. Informed Consent Topics To Cover in Initial Contacts:
    1. Provide same basic information as to individual clients (see chart)
      Limits of confidentiality
Nature, purpose, and anticipated course of services
Fees and billing arrangements
Client’s right to refuse services
Involvement of outside party (e.g., court, DSS, etc.)
HIPAA rights
    2. What Is Your Relationship With EACH? (Not “Who is the Client ?”)
      Ethical Perspective: What are your responsibilities to each party?
Clinical Perspectives: What is your role with each person?
Third Party Referral Perspective: Who was referred?
Reimbursement Perspective: Diagnosed “identified patient?”
    3. Clarify your rules for open communications vs. “keeping secrets”
      May they each contact you separately outside the sessions?
Will you report to others what is said in outside contacts?
If you hold individual sessions, will you report to others what is said?
    4. Address Inherent Conflicts of Interest
    5. Remind that changes in one person in family can affect all.
    6. Clarify Rules about access to records (own vs. others’; HIPAA, Va.,etc)
  B. Re-Opening The Informed-Consent Discussion:
    1. If a change in circumstances ever changes the confidentiality rules.

2. If changes in the treatment plan creates changes in your role .

      if changing from assessment to therapy or vice versa
if changing from family/couple to individual therapy
if changing from individual therapy to family/couple therapy
if changing from voluntary to court-ordered therapy or vice versa
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