Informed Consent and the Legal System
Clinical Update June 2015
By Zur Institute
View a complete list of Clinical Updates.
When patients become involved in litigation, whether by their choice or not, they often request that the psychotherapist disclose the therapy records. If the request is in the form of a court order or signed patient authorization, most therapists expediently disclose the records, without giving it much thought. However, this may not be in the best interests of the patient, due to the substantial risks inherent in such disclosures - both to the patient and the therapeutic relationship.
In fact, there are significant risks associated with either decision - to disclose or to refuse. For example, disclosure could cause the patient to lose their lawsuit, and could forever destroy the therapeutic relationship. These risks are substantially greater than when records are disclosed to third parties. Because of the increased risk, the fact that informed consent is a legal and ethical requirement for healthcare providers, and because true informed consent is inherently difficult to obtain, providers should try to obtain informed consent when records are to be disclosed to the legal system. This course brings together a discussion of the risks and benefits associated with using psychotherapy records in the legal system, and provides detailed therapist recommendations for every step in the process.
A sample form is included that therapists can modify to the specific circumstances of any case.
New Online 2 CE Credit Course:
Informed Consent & the Legal System
Informing clients of the risks before disclosing therapy records to the court
Course includes a sample "Informed Consent for the Legal System" that therapists can modify to their specific circumstances
Another Online 2 CE Credit Course
Course includes two important forms:
Office Policies & Informed Consent to Psychotherapy and HIPAA
Notice of Privacy Practices