Informed consent to psychotherapy: protecting the dignity and respecting the autonomy of patients

J Clin Psychol. 2008 May;64(5):576-88. doi: 10.1002/jclp.20472.


Well-implemented informed consent procedures demonstrate psychotherapists' respect for clients' right to self-determination and can initiate meaningful contributions to treatment through enhancing mutual trust, building rapport, and facilitating a sense of ownership. This article details key components of informed consent to psychotherapy by placing them within real-world psychotherapy scenarios. We provide information on client-therapist discussions of the nature and course of therapy, fees and payment policies, the involvement of third parties, confidentiality policies, and new and untested treatments. In addition, this article addresses informed consent procedures for individuals with impaired cognitive capacities and under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) regulations.

MeSH terms

  • Confidentiality / ethics
  • Decision Making / ethics
  • Domestic Violence
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / ethics
  • Education, Medical, Graduate / standards
  • Ethics, Medical
  • Forensic Psychiatry / ethics
  • Forensic Psychiatry / standards
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
  • Humans
  • Informed Consent / ethics*
  • Mental Disorders / therapy
  • Personal Autonomy
  • Privacy
  • Professional Practice / ethics*
  • Professional Practice / standards
  • Professional-Patient Relations / ethics
  • Psychotherapeutic Processes
  • Psychotherapy / education
  • Psychotherapy / ethics*
  • Psychotherapy / standards
  • United States