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Psychology Clinic: Your Rights as a Client

You have a right to know the therapist's credentials, educational background, and experience.

You have a right not to be discriminated against because of race, color, creed, gender, religion, nationality, or disability. No therapist is knowledgeable in all religious, ethnic varieties and national customs to the extent that he or she can understand the impact of that background and put it into perspective. Therefore, a therapist may make a referral if a lack of understanding is interfering with treatment.

You have a right to be informed of the nature of treatment being offered, alternative treatments available, risks involved in treatment (e.g., parties in marital therapy may get a divorce) and risks of foregoing treatment, anticipated length of therapy, and your option to refuse treatment at any time.

You have a right to know the agency's "no-show" and cancellation policies and the consequences of violating such policies. For example in the Psychology Clinic failure to call prior to or immediately following a missed appointment could result in your being placed back on the waiting list.

You have a right to be involved in the treatment process to the greatest extent you desire, including discussing the treatment plan, diagnosis, prognosis, use of exercises in session or "homework assignments" outside of session. The more you participate in the treatment process, the greater the opportunity for treatment to succeed.

You have the right not to be exploited by the therapist, who has a duty to refrain from blurring professional boundaries, to respect professional distances, and to refrain from any act that suggests or implies a dual relationship of any type: social, business, intellectual, personal, sexual, or artistic. Your therapist is your therapist only, not your friend, and any attempt to create any other relationship is unfair, unwise, and unethical. Therapists should not attend a client's family events, religious ceremonies, or parties; nor should they participate in any other function that might in any way affect clinical objectivity. Therapists should not accept gifts, tickets, or invitations. The therapist's relationship with you should be limited to the therapeutic treatment.

Children and adolescents have a right to be respected and have the confidentiality of their communications maintained, except where breaches are legally required. Once a child realizes a parent or guardian is receiving such information from the therapist, trust evaporates. Most children want to tell the therapist what they do not tell their parents, and if the therapist violates this trust, frank and honest communication comes to an abrupt halt.

You have a right to terminate treatment, unless it is court ordered, at any time. Your therapist also has a duty to terminate treatment when progress is not being achieved or all goals have been reached.

You have a right to know what to do should a provider prove to be incompetent or unethical, including the right to report the therapist to the state board, national organizations, or bring legal action against the therapist. You may choose not to pursue these options; however, you should be aware of your rights to do so. (Adapted from Bernstein & Hartsell, 2000)