Patient "Bill of Rights"

Subtitle

What are my rights when seeing a mental health provider?

The process of finding a provider and entering treatment for mental health can be daunting and scary. It is important to make sure that you are armed with accurate information when starting out on this journey, but you may not know what questions to ask or where to seek out information.  Below we have compiled a list of your rights as a patient when you see a mental health provider.

You have the right to:

  • Request and receive full information about the therapist’s professional capabilities, including licensure, education, training, experience, professional association membership, specialization, and limitations.
    • It is important to make sure that the provider, or therapist, you are working with is licensed. Licensed professionals have completed the necessary education and training requirements and are governed by the state board where they work. They are held accountable through the board for disciplinary action if they fail to uphold the code of ethics, or maintain best practices, as dictated by their discipline (i.e. psychologist, mental health counselor, social worker, etc).
    • In the state of Massachusetts, it is NOT illegal for someone to present themselves as an unlicensed mental health care provider. If you choose to meet with someone and do not verify their credentials and licensure, there is no one to report to if the “therapist” acts unethically. An unlicensed clinician does not need to have liability insurance, meaning if you decide to pursue legal action as a result of being dissatisfied, there is the potential that the claim will go unsettled. Also, unlicensed providers are not bound to protect confidentiality, which could affect how your information is shared and protected.
    • Referrals from INTERFACE are verified to ensure that the providers have a current, active license and do not have violations of the code of conduct that would prevent them from practicing.  If they are not independently licensed, we know that a Licensed Professional is supervising their work.
    • Some of the terms unlicensed clinicians who claim to treat mental health conditions use include: psychotherapist, “counselor,” life coach, and “hypnotherapist,” among others. Some providers may use these terms and also have a valid license, but you should always check to be sure!
    • How can I check a license on my own?
    • For education and training, it is important to know there are many different educational backgrounds, professional degrees, and licenses of providers. Click the link for more information:
    • With regards to specialties and limitations, every mental health provider is trained in specific areas and are required to only see patients who are within their area of competence. With that being said, if a therapist agrees to meet with you and information arises that is beyond the scope of the provider’s knowledge and training, s/he is ethically and legally required to provide you referrals for someone who specializes in this area.  If this happens to you, the provider is doing his/her duty to make sure you are treated by someone who has the knowledge and expertise to give you the best care possible.
  • Have written information about fees, method of payment, insurance reimbursement, number of sessions, substitutions (in cases of vacation and emergencies), and cancellation policies before beginning therapy.
    • Most providers will have paperwork to complete before or during the first session that gives this information if it is not already listed on a website. If you are not given this information, then you have the right to ASK!
  • Receive respectful treatment that will be helpful to you. If you are unsure about this, you have the right to ask questions about your therapy.
  • A safe environment, free from sexual, physical, and emotional abuse.
  • Refuse to answer any questions or disclose any information you choose not to reveal.
  • Request that the therapist inform you of your progress.
  • Know the limitations of confidentiality and the circumstances in which a therapist is legally required to disclose information to others.
  • This information should also be discussed within your first session. Limits to confidentiality are the following:
    • If you state an intent or plan to harm/kill yourself or an identifiable other.
    • If the therapist suspects any abuse/neglect for children, elders, or disabled individual.
    • If, in a legal proceeding, the court subpoenas your records.
    • If you use your insurance or other third party-payers, then information regarding your care will be required in order for the insurance company to provide payment.
  • Know if there are supervisors, consultants, students, or others with whom your therapist will discuss your treatment.
  • Refuse a particular type of treatment or end treatment without obligation or harassment.
  • Refuse electronic recording (but you may request it if you wish).
  • Request and (in most cases) receive a summary of your file, including the diagnosis, your progress, and type of treatment.

 

These are your rights as a patient seen by any medical or mental health professional and knowing your rights puts you in charge of your care. It is important to remember that INTERFACE makes every effort to ensure we match you with licensed providers, but it is up to you to advocate for your own treatment! The INTERFACE Referral Service is always here to answer any questions you may have. Please call us at 617-332-3666 or review this website for more information.