Every state has a unique “age of consent” and a distinct set of laws that determines what rights a teenager under the age of 18, the federal age of legality, has in regards to their life. For parents who have a child entering treatment for substance abuse, knowing what rights a teen does or doesn’t have feels imperative. Not uncommonly, parents want to know how much leverage they have with a child’s therapist and treatment provider. Can their agendas be pushed? Could the messages they have been trying to convey for years finally get through? Underneath what seem to be more self-centered ambitions is a genuine concern for information. If my child is in danger, if there is anything I can do, will I be informed?
Your child’s therapist cannot and does not have to tell you everything your child talks about in session
Confidentiality is a signed and agreed upon binding contract between a therapist and their client. There are few circumstances which break the agreement of confidentiality. HIPAA laws exist to protect clients of therapeutic and clinical care to the highest degree. Unless a child signs a release of information to you, the therapist is not required to divulge what goes on in treatment. Your child’s therapist cannot tell you what the child thinks of you, why the child acts the way they do, or what your child is planning to do on Friday night. Your child’s therapist is required by law to inform you or officials if:
- Your child has indicated a threat to harm themselves
- Your child has indicated a threat to harm others
- Your child has indicated neglect or abuse at home
- Your child has indicated self-harm through substance abuse or mental distress
Your child can continue or discontinue seeing their therapist without your permission
Age of consent laws vary in how they specifically state when a child has autonomous authority in their lives to continue or discontinue seeing their therapist with or without your permission. Check the laws of the state you live in or the state your child is living in for treatment.
You do not get to tell the therapist what to treat in your child
Children, particularly adolescents and teenagers, are not always forthcoming about their life, their emotions, or their deepest thoughts. A therapist might refer to you, the parent, or other family members and friends for insight. In order to properly assess and treat your child, a therapist needs information. Though the therapist will ask you for information, they will do so in a professional way, equally analyzing your answer. The therapist will not listen to your dictations of what is “wrong” with your child but will seek first and foremost to get information from your child who is their patient.
As a family who lived through a beloved child’s addiction and recovery, we built Stonewater Adolescent Recovery Center to provide the best, clinically proven treatment and academic support to teen and adolescent boys. Life cleansing and foundation building, our programs help young men create new lives in recovery. Call us today for information: 662-598-4214