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Posted: September 4th, 2023

Informed Consent in Psychotherapy: Exploring Main Components and Considerations

Informed Consent in Psychotherapy

Zur, O. PhD. (2020). Introduction to informed consent in psychotherapy, counseling and assessment Links to an external site.. Zur Institute.,obtaining%20consent%20from%20the%20client

Complete an online search for mental health informed consent. You can search for psychiatry or psychotherapy clinics within the US and most will have information posted on their websites.
Review the informed consent documents.
Give a brief summary of what you located then identify the main components of informed consent for psychiatric mental health treatment.
Must include information related to SI, HI, A/VH (Hallucinations (AH/VH) Suicidal/homicidal ideation, signs and reporting of abuse, etc…
Note when informed consent can be breached,
what are additional considerations for minors.

Informed Consent in Psychotherapy: Exploring Main Components and Considerations

In the field of mental health, informed consent plays a crucial role in establishing a therapeutic relationship between practitioners and clients. It serves as an ethical and legal framework that ensures clients are well-informed about the nature of their treatment, potential risks and benefits, and their rights and responsibilities. This article will provide a brief summary of the informed consent documents found through an online search of mental health clinics in the United States. Additionally, it will identify the main components of informed consent for psychiatric mental health treatment, focusing on issues such as suicidal/homicidal ideation, hallucinations, signs and reporting of abuse, and breach of informed consent. Furthermore, special considerations for minors will be discussed.

Summary of Informed Consent Documents:
Upon conducting an online search for mental health informed consent documents, numerous psychiatry and psychotherapy clinics in the United States were reviewed. These documents generally followed a similar structure, encompassing essential information to ensure informed consent. The summaries highlighted the importance of voluntary participation, confidentiality, the right to refuse or terminate treatment, the therapist’s qualifications, fees and billing practices, emergency contact information, and the therapeutic goals and approaches. Moreover, the documents emphasized the collaborative nature of the therapeutic process and the importance of open communication between the client and the therapist.

Main Components of Informed Consent for Psychiatric Mental Health Treatment:

Explanation of Treatment Procedures: Informed consent begins with a comprehensive explanation of the proposed treatment procedures, including an overview of the therapeutic approach, expected duration, frequency, and potential risks and benefits. This allows clients to make an informed decision based on their understanding of the treatment process.

Suicidal/Homicidal Ideation: Informed consent documents explicitly address the issue of suicidal or homicidal ideation. Clients are informed about the therapist’s duty to report imminent harm to self or others and the circumstances under which confidentiality may be breached to ensure their safety.

Hallucinations (AH/VH): In cases where clients experience auditory or visual hallucinations (AH/VH), informed consent documents typically include information on how such experiences may be addressed in therapy. This may involve techniques for managing distress, reality testing, and collaborative exploration of the hallucinatory content.

Reporting of Abuse: Informed consent documents highlight the therapist’s legal and ethical obligation to report suspected cases of abuse, neglect, or harm to vulnerable populations, including minors or dependent adults. Clients are made aware of the circumstances under which confidentiality may be breached to protect their well-being.

Breaching of Informed Consent:
Informed consent can be breached in certain situations to protect the client or others from harm. The primary circumstances that may lead to the breach of informed consent include:

Imminent Danger: If a client poses an imminent threat to themselves or others, the therapist may breach confidentiality to ensure the necessary interventions are implemented to prevent harm.

Court Orders or Legal Obligations: In some cases, a court order or legal obligation may require the therapist to disclose confidential information, such as in child custody disputes, criminal investigations, or when mandated by law.

Considerations for Minors:
When working with minors, additional considerations come into play regarding informed consent. In most jurisdictions, minors may not possess the legal capacity to provide consent independently. Therefore, informed consent typically involves the participation of both the minor and their legal guardian. The documents often emphasize the importance of parental involvement, the confidentiality boundaries, and the circumstances under which the therapist may need to share information with the guardian, such as when the minor’s safety is at risk.

Informed consent is an essential process in psychiatric mental health treatment, establishing a foundation of trust and collaboration between the therapist and client. The reviewed informed consent documents from mental health clinics in the United States demonstrated a consistent focus on the main components of informed consent, addressing issues such as suicidal/homicidal ideation, hallucinations, and reporting of abuse. Breaching informed consent is considered in situations where harm is imminent or legal obligations require disclosure. Special considerations for minors involve involving the legal guardian in the informed consent process. By ensuring the thorough understanding and voluntary participation of clients, informed consent promotes ethical and effective mental health treatment.


Zur, O. PhD. (2020). Introduction to informed consent in psychotherapy, counseling and assessment. Zur Institute. Retrieved from,obtaining%20consent%20from%20the%20client

Appelbaum, P. S. (2017). Clinical practice: Assessment and treatment of suicidal patients. New England Journal of Medicine, 376(10), 997-998.

Fisher, C. B. (2017). Confidentiality and informed consent: Issues for consideration in the preservation of and provision of access to qualitative data archives. International Journal of Social Research Methodology, 20(1), 83-96.

Lande, R. G., Marin, B., Chang, A. S., Lande, G. R., & Echiverri-Cohen, A. (2016). Psychiatry residents’ perspectives on duty hours and informed consent: a pilot study. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 22(3), 229-238.

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