Privacy policy and client rights, by Beth Mares RP

Ontario forest, soothing and therapeutic

 

Your right to informed consent

You have a right to refuse any health care treatment, including any type of psychotherapy. For this to be meaningful, you need information about the proposed treatment. Feel free to ask questions in the initial session and as we work together.

I adapt what I do to each client, and it can change over time as the client makes changes or is in different circumstances. We discuss what we are doing and how it is working as we go along.

The following is general information; ask me about your own situation.

Potential risks of therapy

Typically there is some discomfort as you face up to an internal conflict in order to sort it out--usually followed by a sense of relief. When doing deeper work, especially for people who have experienced childhood trauma, some sessions could produce a sense of disorientation or tears or other strong feelings that could occasionally require taking a day off work, as the brain rewires. This is more likely after an intensive (which I do not do) than an ordinary session, but it is best to not be too busy or stressed before and especially after a session so that the rewiring and your other activities will not interfere with each other.

It is even possible for attempts at therapy to do harm. For example, A client might suddenly stop therapy because they ran out of money, and this could cause the loss of gains that have not yet been consolidated, or even be destabilizing. It can take time to find lower cost therapy, and a transition to another therapist can make therapy take longer. Or a client could feel angry at or even betrayed by their therapist, perhaps because of a misunderstanding, and suddenly stop therapy. [If this should happen to you, come for another session to sort it out if you can, or see another therapist for help with it as soon as possible.] Something that comes up in therapy could even precipitate a dangerously impulsive or suicidal state or a psychotic episode in a predisposed client, though we try to ensure that this does not happen. I myself do not work with clients who appear to be unstable.

Risks of not doing therapy and alternatives to therapy

Depression, anxiety, and addictive/obsessive processes tend to feed on themselves and get worse over time. In general, the longer the mental health problem goes on, the more damage it will do and the longer it will take to overcome. In many cases of recent-onset depression medication will get someone back on track, though it will not address the underlying vulnerability. According to a lot of research, the best bet for depression is a combination of therapy and medication. Some people, usually with less severe symptoms of short duration, recover without any treatment, probably because of a change in their circumstances, and sometimes with help from another guide, such as an elder, sponsor or coach. However the addition of suitable therapy will likely speed up the process and help to ensure long term success.

How I work

I mostly do cognitive behavioral therapy. Behavioral therapy is about helpful things someone can do--for example, how to improve a close relationship, how to be assertive, how to find a way to exercise, etc. It may involve homework. I also sometimes offer a client relaxation training in the form of guided imagery/ hypnotherapy. Cognitive therapy addresses limiting false beliefs that are held unconsciously or semi-consciously and are often at odds with the person's conscious beliefs. When it is necessary to go deeper to deal with trauma and emotional blocks I use body awareness work and/or psychodynamic therapy, which usually involves revisiting memories of the past. The relationship with the therapist (the "therapeutic alliance") is always an important element in promoting change via psychotherapy, especially for clients doing longer term therapy, so I pay attention to that. More at What I do.

Privacy and records

I record personal/ health information for the purpose of helping a client reach their mental health goals and because I am required to do so by law as a regulated health professional. I do not use or make available this material for teaching or research. If I discuss a case with colleagues I do not include details that might have the potential to identify the client.

I do not disclose personal/health information except as required by law or if required, to a representative of my regulatory college, the CRPO, who treats it as confidential. My IT manager, who is bound by confidentiality, handles client records but would not ordinarily read any private health information. Should you need me to provide confidential information to another health provider I would require your written authorization on an official form.

Health information is retained for 10 years. The "patient" may arrange to view it or obtain a copy of it, subject to an administrative charge, unless it is deemed that this might harm them or others. They have the right to have any corrections added to the record. However notes of joint sessions can only be viewed with the permission of the other party. Should you need to arrange to view your records, email me.

I make every effort to keep data safe, but if anything were to happen that might compromise your records, I would notify you and of course take urgent measures to contain the breach.

Any issue that you are unable to resolve with me may be referred to the College of Registered Psychotherapists of Ontario.

For more information about legal and other limitations on privacy, see How private is my therapy in Ontario?


Beth Mares Counselling