Patient Bill of Rights

Patients have the right to:

  • Request and receive information about the therapist’s professional capabilities, including licensure, education, training, experience, professional association membership, specialization and limitations.
  • Have written information about fees, payment methods, insurance reimbursement, number of sessions, substitutions (in cases of vacation and emergencies), and cancellation policies before beginning therapy.
  • Receive respectful treatment that will be helpful to you.
  • A safe environment, free from sexual, physical and emotional abuse.
  • Ask questions about your therapy.
  • Refuse to answer any question or disclose any information you choose not to reveal.
  • Request and receive information from the therapist about your progress.
  • Know the limits of confidentiality and the circumstances in which a therapist is legally required to disclose information to others.
  • Know if there are supervisors, consultants, students, or others with whom your therapist will discuss your case.
  • Refuse a particular type of treatment, or end treatment without obligation or harassment.
  • Refuse electronic recording (but you may request it if you wish).
  • Request and (in most cases) receive a summary of your file, including the diagnosis, your progress, and the type of treatment.
  • Report unethical and illegal behavior by a therapist.
  • Receive a second opinion at any time about your therapy or therapist’s methods.
  • Have a copy of your file transferred to any therapist or agency you choose.

From Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex published by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

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  1. Pingback: Resources: Therapist Abuse « Kate1975's Blog

  2. Clients also have a right to a copy of their records sent directly to themselves. If they request it directly to them, they need only pay a “reasonable charge” to cover the cost of copying and postage charges.
    If you request records and the provider refuses to send them directly to you, you can file a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, HIPAA privacy division.

    • I sent 7 letters to a therapist following the Michigan regulations about amending and retrieving records. The OCR is useless. There was no action taken regarding the therapist not following HIPAA laws to amend or respond to the amendment requests. What do you do when that happens? Is it then a federal case because it is a HIPAA violation? The OCR manager would have to have wanted to subpoena our records but he would not. How do you find an attorney to sue the OCR? I don’t know what else to do.

      • You are correct!! Sadly so. OCR is corrupt. Unless they can get 6 digit fines (which means a large healthcare organization gets a complaint, plus you know that money never goes to the clients whose HIPAA rights have been violated!), they will do nothing more than call the provider, send copies of their rules that are online already, believe the provider’s version of the story without any investigation, then the provider may try to come after you. Plus, OCR incorrectly uses the Mental Hygiene Law against all mental health clients. The law’s basis is if a client is a danger to himself/herself or others, then any provider can refuse and violate that client’s HIPAA rights (including denying them their legal right to a copy of their records sent directly to them for a reasonable fee. (Quite unconstitutional as it has much subjectivity to it, lending itself to “profiling” actually.) Abusive and unethical mental health providers just tell OCR their client is unsafe to get out of trouble, yet when I was dealing with OCR I was neither suicidal nor homicidal. Dr. Michelle Cochran in Nashville had gone against the law, threatening a client who was abused by a colleague, refusing antidepressants to a client who had depression from hypothyroidism, had documents proving that Sarah B. Parsons abused one of her clients, kept very poor records throughout all the years she practiced (she couldn’t find any records for medications previously used for a client when needed), so she wasn’t about to release the records to show OCR how poorly she had followed proper protocol. OCR also will deny a complaint if they know it’s a mental health provider without verifying if a client was a danger to self or others. Plus, OCR only gives you 6 months to file the complaint, and if you’ve been violated by a provider who has threatened and abused you, it takes more than 6 months just to survive. I strongly recommend everyone interested get the email reports from OCR. They are quite telling. This is a system problem that needs to change. Maybe HHS or Department of Justice….someone needs to regulate the ethics of organizations like OCR.

  3. Jossean,

    There are several groups helping people who have experienced abuse by professionals. I work with those who experienced mental health provider abuse. Reporting can be challenging and it would be good to talk privately with someone from the groups listed in the article from this website. You can always talk privately with me and find information on my website. ( ). Remember that you are not alone. I’m sorry for the experience that you have suffered and hope that you are able to find support and help through these resources to heal through it well. There are many resources, but each one has a different focus. Find the ones who can help you.

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