Providing informed consent is a vital first step before starting any treatment or counseling service in the medical and mental health industries. It’s important to make sure that your clients and patients are fully informed with your treatment or counseling service they will be receiving and that they provide you with their full agreement to proceed. In this post, we will review everything you need to know about creating a professional counseling informed consent form. You can also find our informed consent form template below:
Informed Consent for Psychological Services
Having informed consent for your psychological services recognizes that your clients have rights to freedom, autonomy, and human dignity. Getting informed consent is required for mental health professionals in all 50 states.
According to Zur Institute:
Informed consent is a legal and ethical term defined as the consent by a client to a proposed medical or psychotherapeutic procedure, or for participation in a research project or clinical study. In order for the consent to be informed the client must first achieve a clear understanding of the relevant facts, risks and benefits, and available alternatives involved. Informed consent requires legal documentation in all 50 states.
Why is Informed Consent Important?
Why is Informed consent is important? Besides being mandatory in any therapeutic relationship, informed consent starts a relationships between you and your client that is built on trust. An informed consent form lays the groundwork for an ethical relationship and opens dialogue between you and your client.
An effective informed consent form will:
- Create trust between the therapist and the client
- Reduce risk for both the therapist and the client
- Increase the client’s understanding of the proposed treatment or therapy
- Promote ethical practices by respecting the client’s right to dignity, autonomy, and integrity
- Get consent for your client’s voluntary decision to receive your proposed treatment of psychological services
Process of Informed Consent
The process of obtaining informed consent for psychological services has three phases. Many scholars agree that informed consent goes beyond just getting a signature, rather, it involves a process of dialogue and discussion between a mental health professional and their client.
The process of informed consent typically involves 3 phases:
- A clear communication of the nature, risks, and benefits of the therapy treatment, procedure, or other event that your client is consenting to
- A therapist must evaluate whether or not a potential client understand the information and is competent to make an informed decision regarding treatment or therapy
- The client must acknowledge that they have been informed of the therapy, benefits, and risks and agree to all other rights and responsibilities outlined in your informed consent form. The most common way a client acknowledges informed consent is by signing an informed consent form.
Parts of an Informed Consent Form for Psychology Services
What should be included on your informed consent form? We’ve put together a list of sections you can include.
It’s a good idea to include your practice’s information as well as your information. This can also make it convenient if you have a group practice.
Information About Your Counseling Services
This section describes the relationship between a client and their patient in psychotherapy/therapy treatment. It can outline the client’s rights, risks of treatment, expectations from the client, and a brief schedule of stages in your treatment process.
An appointment information section will define how long appointments last and how often they will occur. You can also outline your cancellation policy here.
The fee information section can outline how much you charge for initial intake session(s) as well as subsequent therapy sessions. You can outline when you expect payment and how payment should be made (Credit cards, cash, etc.).
In the insurance information section, you can outline whether you take insurance or not. If you do, you can outline who you work with. In our example below, we included that the therapist does not take insurance.
In the professional records section, you can mention that you’ll be taking appropriate records for psychological services you provide.
In the confidentiality section, you can include information that speaks to your obligation to keep your counseling discussions confidential. You can also include ethical reasons why you may have to break your confidentiality.
It’s important to include an availability section so that your clients know exactly when you’ll be available. Boundaries should be laid out clearly here.
Information About Treating Minors
When / if you treat minors, it’s important to include information about sharing treatment information with a child’s parent, and exactly what age that will occur.
Information about Clients Contacting the Therapist
This section is similar to the availability section, but outlines when you’re available and when a client should seek emergency services.
Child Care Release
This section outlines that clients should make appropriate plans for their children and that you do or do not include childcare services.
Rights and Responsibilities
This section will outline a client’s additional rights and responsibilities, as well as your rights and responsibilities.
Client Signature Section
The final section is where your client or personal representative signs the document in agreement and dates the appropriate date.
Informed Consent Example
Now that we’ve gone through why an informed consent form is important and the different parts of an informed consent form, here’s an example of an informed consent form:
Final Thoughts on Having a Professional Counseling Informed Consent Form
Thank you for reading my blog about professional counseling informed consent forms. Having a professional informed consent form for your therapy practice is a crucial step to operating a successful therapy practice while maintaining the highest ethical standards for your clients.
Download our editable professional counseling informed consent form: