5 Things Parents Should Know About Consent And Confidentiality Regarding Their Teen's Psychiatric Treatment

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5 Things Parents Should Know About Consent And Confidentiality Regarding Their Teen's Psychiatric Treatment

20 October 2015
 Categories: , Articles

If your teen needs psychiatric treatment, they may only agree to go to their sessions and take their medication if you agree to respect their privacy and allow them to develop their own relationship with their psychiatrist. This can be difficult if you are concerned about your teen's progress and want to help them. It can also be difficult if your child has been receiving psychiatric treatment for years and suddenly wants a higher level of confidentiality with their psychiatrist. Often, your teen has legal rights to confidentiality and consent, and it is important that you understand how they work. 

In Many States, Your Teen Can Consent To Psychiatric Treatment 

According to HIPPA rules, most children over the age of 12 are able to consent to treatment for medical care regarding sexual health, substance abuse, and mental health issues. This means that your teenager may be allowed to seek psychiatric treatment without involving you. However, each state has different laws regarding confidentiality. This means that while your teen may be able to consent to treatment, in many states you may still have legal access to their health records whether they agree to it or not. 

If Your Teen Is Covered By Your Insurance, You Still May Not See Details of Their Treatment On Your Bills 

In some states, psychiatrists do not have to disclose details of your minor teen's treatment with you. In these states, your child may request that their medical bills be sent directly to them. You may assume that you will learn some of the details of their treatment in the explanation of benefits section of your insurance updates, but your teen may be able to call your insurance company and request that they do not include unnecessary details on their EOB. You cannot assume that you know everything that is going on with your child's treatment just because they are still covered by your insurance. 

In Some Cases, You May Have a Right to Your Teen's Written Health Records

In some states, you will have a right to your child's mental health records. However, you should keep in mind that these records generally include medications, start and stop times of psychotherapy sessions, and medical conditions. They do not include details of what is discussed during psychotherapy sessions, as this is still considered confidential. 

Your Teen's Psychiatrist May Be Required To Share Certain Details With You

While most of the time a teen's confidentiality will be respected by their psychiatrist, doctors are required to reveal information that may cause your child or others around them harm. They may report details of your child's treatment to child protective services or the police and, in some cases, may be allowed to give you details about their treatment.

This should help to ease your concerns about helping your child, because you know that any truly serious information will have to be reported to a higher authority. 

You Can Opt Out of Receiving Details Of Your Teen's Treatment 

Even if you are allowed to receive details of your teen's treatment, you may not want to. By allowing your child the autonomy to develop their own relationship with their psychiatrist, you are supporting their treatment. At the beginning of your teen's treatment, you may create a consent form stating what type of information will be shared with you and what type of information will remain between your child and their adolescent psychiatry specialist. This consent form may be changed at a later date as your child requests more or less privacy. 

Learning the laws regarding confidentiality and consent can help you and your teen navigate psychiatric treatment together. Learning to respect personal boundaries and trust your teen's psychiatrist can also be helpful to a positive outcome of the treatment.