Doing In-Office Therapy? Consider this Informed Consent
By Barbara Griswold, LMFT (November 29, 2020)
As I write this, many therapists nationwide are again enduring “shelter in place” orders, in response to new waves of COVID-19 cases. While healthcare providers are generally considered “essential services,” allowing us to meet in person with psychotherapy clients, many of us have chosen an all-telehealth practice for now.
However, many of us still provide in-person sessions to clients, or are restarting this service. There are many good reasons for this, including that some clients do not have internet, and some do not have privacy at home. I recently restarted seeing a long-term client in my office, as we agreed the switch to telehealth had contributed to his sharp decrease in functioning, and not being in the room with him made it harder to accurately assess him.
But you may worry. How can you reduce your liability? Can a client sue you if he gets COVID? What should I discuss with the client about safety and notifications?
So, for those of you who are seeing clients in person, or are considering doing so, I wanted to share the American Psychological Association’s sample informed consent for therapists who are returning to the office. (To get the sample informed consent, click here)
Please do NOT interpret this as a recommendation that you resume seeing clients in person before you feel comfortable doing so. This is a very personal decision.
If you do take this step, stay tuned into the guidance from your regional health safety officers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adjust the consent to fit the specific requirements of your community or practice. I would add on the consent that there will be no charge when a client late cancels due to a possible COVID symptoms or exposure, so a client feels comfortable cancelling in these cases.
As it says in the article, this informed consent is not meant to replace your normal informed consent with information about your policies (fees, billing, confidentiality, etc.).
Also, part of the informed consent download is a notice you may post in your office to tell clients about your “Office Safety Precautions in Effect During the Pandemic.”
Again, to get the APA’s informed consent and Notice, click here
To get 16 other helpful practice forms, including a Telehealth Consent, check out my Practice Forms Packet and other helpful therapist resources — click here