How does Informed Consent work for teens?

For all minors under 18 serving as “the patient” – whether for individual therapy or family therapy – we require informed consent from a designated parent/guardian with custodial rights. This means the designated parent/guardian with custody will be signing our electronic paperwork prior to the onset of treatment.

In addition, the designated parent/guardian will be listed as the teen’s Emergency Contact, and will also be considered as the one financially responsible. The credit card provided in the patient portal must belong to the parent/guardian.

If circumstances suggest that custodial rights may be in question (including but not limited to, if a minor has divorced parents/guardians, if a minor is not living with parents/guardians, if a minor is in foster care, among other circumstances), documentation of holding custodial rights must be provided (uploaded to the patient portal) prior to the onset of treatment. In a case where custody is split 50/50 between two people, consent to the minor’s therapy is required from both people. Proof of custody includes, but is not limited to: a custody order or affidavit of parenting agreements.

Are there any exceptions?

In some cases, depending on age and circumstances, a teenager may be able to provide their own informed consent without permission from a parent/guardian. However, these laws vary from state to state and you will need to check with us prior to the onset of treatment if you would like to explore this option. Unless there is legitimate reasoning for seeking treatment without informed consent from a parent/guardian with custodial rights, we ask all teens to include their parents/guardians in the process of setting up services. If, however, the therapist verifies that a teenager will be able to provide informed consent independently, the teen would be responsible for all payments and all practice policies would apply. The teen would still be required to list an adult as their Emergency Contact (like all patients regardless of age), but it would not necessarily need to be a parent/guardian in a case like this.

Can parents/guardians participate in sessions?

YES. While some teens prefer to have therapy without parents/guardians present, others would like their parents/guardians to be present, and we are happy to include them. We may also ask parents/guardians or other adults responsible for a teen’s welfare to become involved the treatment process with or without the patient present if we feel this is necessary for effective treatment. Sometimes this is necessary to gain further information and perspectives regarding behaviors, living arrangements, parenting styles, school experiences, and other matters.

Most importantly, we want all parents/guardians to know that we are accessible and happy to communicate with you at any point during the treatment process. We recognize how important your teenager’s wellness is to you, and we are committed to making this process as positive as possible for your family.

If you have any questions, concerns, or general thoughts about the process, we encourage you to contact us.