7 Things Every Teen Should Know About Their Rights In Therapy

Health News From BuzzFeed

The more the know, the more empowered you’ll feel taking the therapy leap.

People asked lots of great questions about what therapy is actually like and what to expect from your therapist, and we got answers to those questions from three therapists — you can check them out here [LINK TK to https://www.buzzfeed.com/buzzfeed/_draft/4628930].

But we also got several questions about confidentiality, disclosure, and reporting when it comes to parents, family, and hospitalization, so we decided to reach out to a psychologist who works with young people — Dr. Barbara Nosal, chief clinical officer at Newport Academy, treatment centers for teens struggling with mental health issues, eating disorders, and substance abuse — to get some answers. Here's what she told BuzzFeed Health via email.

Quick FYI before we dive in: frustratingly, lots of the rules around confidentiality, disclosure, and consent vary by state.

Quick FYI before we dive in: frustratingly, lots of the rules around confidentiality, disclosure, and consent vary by state.

And you'll see this below in Nosal's explanations. Because there are no hard and fast blanket answers that will apply to all situations, Nosal recommends doing some research to get accurate answers (that are specific to you and your state) to any questions you have about these topics. For example, Nosal says, "You can find the specifics for your state by searching online for 'age of consent in (your state)' or 'child abuse laws in (your state).' To make sure you get accurate information, refer to the state websites rather than information posted elsewhere.'"

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What sort of stuff do therapists absolutely have to tell parents/guardians about?

What sort of stuff do therapists absolutely have to tell parents/guardians about?

"Confidentiality is one of the most important aspects of building rapport with a therapist. If you cannot trust or be honest with your therapist, why would you see them? In regard to privacy and limits on confidentiality, therapists are bound by the ethical guidelines of their state license.

Practitioners are mandated to disclose information, depending upon the laws of their state, whenever there may be a serious threat of harm to self or others, or suspected neglect or abuse. For instance, typically therapists will not tell parents about situations involving consensual sex with someone of a similar age; however, depending upon the laws of the state, when there is a significant age difference or an implication that it is not consensual, the therapist is mandated by law to make a report to the state."

You can find more detailed information about confidentiality here.

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Do I need my parents’ consent to go to therapy?

Do I need my parents’ consent to go to therapy?

"The laws vary considerably by state; in many states, minors — as young as 12 years old in California and Vermont — are allowed to consent to treatment for substance abuse and mental health. The therapist must be satisfied that a client possesses the capacity and maturity to intelligently participate in therapy and understand what they are consenting to, and the therapist is required to document the discussion in the client’s record."

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