In working with minors (things for parents/ guardians to be aware of): A minor client is under the age of 18, in which all legal guardians are required to give consent for treatment. LCSW’s are ethically and professionally required to receive the “consent for treatment” to treat a child by both biological parents and/or legal guardians. There are some situations in which this is not required (or possible) and we can discuss this together.
What will I disclose to the parent(s) or guardians? Ultimately a parent has the right to know what is going on with their child. But trust is very important in the therapeutic relationship. If a child feels that I will tell their parents everything that they say, minimal progress will be made in treatment. My hope is that when an uncomfortable and needed topic comes up that I can assist the child in letting the parents know how they are feeling. I also hope that you will trust me to decipher what I believe is relevant information to be disclosed.
General Expectations: I believe in the importance of “family therapy,” to benefit your child and your family (whether the parents are together or not). Generally speaking, the best progress is made when both parents are involved in their child’s mental health treatment. I do not expect both parents to be involved in every therapy session. However I would appreciate ongoing and open communication from both legal parents, when able.
In the event that the legal parents are separated or divorced: a copy of the most recent custody judgement is required prior to the initial session. It is also required that I receive a copy of all updated legal judgements during the course of treatment with your child. It is always considered preferable professionally and ethically that both legal parents give consent for treatment and are involved in your child’s care. Ultimately mental health treatment can be requested via either parent as long as joint custody is in place. However if one parent is in disagreement then it can also be terminated. Thus it is in the child’s best interest to have both parents on the same page prior to treatment.
Unfortunately this has become a large area for misunderstanding and misuse in the legal system, particularly when one parent is seeking custody over the other. It’s increasingly common for parents to attempt to misuse the therapeutic relationship for custody purposes. Thus because of the high risk of being either pulled into court, sued, or threatened with a board complaint this is not an area that is negotiable.
If you have a specific question or concern please leave me a voicemail and or send me a HIPAA compliant email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Angie Simonton, LCSW
Updated 05/18, 8/18, 1/19.