Here is some information that is important for you to be aware of while entering treatment with Angie Simonton, LCSW.
Mandatory Reporting: The therapist is a mandatory reporter and required to report (at all times) the following things. First: if the therapist suspects that the client is suicidal or homocidal. Second: if the therapist suspects that the client (or someone else) is being or has been abused, neglected, or is unsafe. Third: if the therapist feels that the client would benefit from being hospitalized for mental health reasons.
If you would like more detailed information on who is a mandatory reporter, what types of things we are legally bound to report, and who are we required to report them to~ I can give you a copy of this information. This is for the safety of you and our society.
The Duty to Warn: The therapist is required by law with the duty to warn. This means if therapist has valid concerns that the client will harm someone else, then the therapist is required to report this information to the authorities. This is for the safety of all involved.
Confidentiality: Most information disclosed is considered confidential while a client is in treatment. But as a Mandatory Reporter, the therapist has the legal duty to break confidentiality if concerned or suspicious in regards to the above situations. Another area when confidentiality can be broken is if the client or support system makes a complaint about the clients treatment. In order to legally protect oneself , the therapist has the right to break confidentiality. If the therapist is subpoenaed to court, then confidentiality will be broken. If the client has an insurance provider which sessions will be paid for, then the insurance provider has the right to access certain parts of a client’s therapy record. Another area of when confidentiality questions arise is when the client is a minor, and the parent would like to know about what is occurring in treatment. This is something that I have written as apart of the initial paperwork. And can be discussed further in session.
In working with minors (things for parents/ guardians to be aware of): A minor client is under the age of 18, in which a legal guardian is required to give consent for treatment. Every therapist works differently, and every profession has a different set of standards that they are ethically required to abide by. Thus, the therapist is ethically required that both biological parents agree verbally and via signed treatment consent that the minor can receive treatment. If custody paperwork is in place, a copy of the most recent judgement is required prior to the initial session. It is expected that any updated judgements are given to the therapist during the course of treatment. If custody paperwork is not in place and the parents are estranged, then this will need to be discussed prior to any sessions being arranged. It is preferred that when parents are estranged or divorced, that the domicile parent make the inital therapy arrangements. However please understand that even if you are the domicile parent, the therapist is still required to notify and request agreement from the other parent. The only instance that consent from both parents is not required is when legal judgements are in place, stating that one of the parents is not to be notified or participate in medical decisions/ mental health care. Also any legal judgements for assigning a nonbiological guardian for care of the minor will be reviewed and accepted for treatment consent (example foster care, grandparents, etc).
In the event of a law suit or complaint against Angie Simonton, LCSW: Not only is it my responsibility to protect the client, but it is also my responsibility to protect myself. I do carry malpractice insurance in the event of a complaint or lawsuit. This is unfortunately common in private practice, and thus it is very important to discuss these issues upfront.
Custody Issues/ Court proceedings and Court Costs: I am not a custody evaluator or parenting coordinator, if you are seeking someone for this time of treatment, I can give you an appropriate referral. I am not considered an “expert witness” and thus if you are seeking someone to support you in a law suit, a referral will be needed. If you do require that I be present in court (via court subpoena) the costs are high and will be discussed in the initial paperwork. This will cover any time spent preparing for the case, for travel, for documentation, for any phone calls related, and for actual time spent at a court-house.
Angie Simonton, LCSW.