What is a psychology consent form?
Psychology consent forms, which are also called “psychotherapy consent forms” and “psychology informed consent forms”, are a type of medical document. Mental health professionals use them to obtain informed consent from patients before providing psychological treatment.
Psychology consent forms describe essential points about proposed treatment plans, including objectives and potential side-effects. In this way, they are useful for ensuring that patients fully understand what is being offered before agreeing to a treatment plan.
Psychology consent forms also need to be completed by individuals who wish to participate in psychological studies (as opposed to treatment plans). In these cases, forms will usually include more detailed descriptions about what is involved in the trial. Signees may also be required to provide larger amounts of personal information.
Who needs to complete psychology consent forms?
Nearly all mental health professionals are required by law to obtain informed consent from patients before providing treatment. These rules cover counselors, alternative therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists.
If you offer mental health services of any kind, you will likely need to gain informed consent through a signed, written document.
If you are running a clinical study or trial with human participants, you also need to obtain informed consent from all individuals involved. In these cases, consent forms will likely include comparatively more fields for personal information and outline details about the nature of the trial.
What are psychology consent forms used for?
Psychology consent forms are important legal documents. Mental health professionals use them to obtain consent from clients before providing services. In most jurisdictions, psychologists are >legally and ethically mandated to obtain informed consent.
If you offer psychological treatment of any kind, it is imperative that you use legally-robust consent forms. If any issues arise further down the line, having a correctly filled-out form ensures that both you and your client are protected.
Psychology consent forms also provide patients with important information about proposed treatment plans, the nature of the psychotherapist-client relationship, rights and regulations surrounding confidential patient data, and any potential risks and side-effects that may be experienced.
What should psychology consent forms include?
Psychology consent forms tend to include the following sections:
- Description of the treatment plan – A description of the proposed treatment plan should be included at the top of the consent form to ensure that the signee is fully aware of what they are agreeing to.
- Rules regarding the patient-provider relationship – Include a clear description of what the relationship between the mental health professional and the patient will look like. This is important for two reasons. First, it creates realistic expectations in the client’s mind. Second, it establishes clear boundaries for both parties, thus making it easier to resolve conflict if anybody acts inappropriately.
- Confidentiality agreement – This section describes privacy and confidentiality rules pertaining to the relationship between the psychotherapist and the client. It should also include information about when the treatment-provider can break the confidentiality agreement, such as when somebody intends to harm another individual.
- Risks and possible side-effects – It is important to include a section about any potential risks and side-effects related to treatment programs. This is similar to waiver.
- Patient name and signature – All forms should include fields for the patient’s name and signature.
- Psychologist name and signature – As a psychology consent form is an agreement between two parties (the psychologist and the patient), both will need to sign.
Depending on the specific requirements of the psychotherapist and the treatment plan being offered, forms may include questionnaire fields for additional particulars and contact information, and an upload button for informed consent documents (supporting paperwork).
For research studies, such as those conducted by a university psychology department, additional information about the research participants may be needed. Clinical trials using human subjects are governed by complex laws, and legal advice should be sought when drafting an informed consent form.
Is a psychology consent form the same as a medical consent form?
A psychology consent form is a type of medical consent form. The Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, a widely-cited set of ethics pertaining to mental health professionals published by the American Psychological Association (APA), stipulates that informed consent must always be obtained before beginning mental health treatment.
Some types of medical consent forms that are distinct from psychology consent forms include telehealth consent forms, physical therapy consent forms, and medical application forms (in which a patient only consents to an initial consultation).
As a general rule, you should use forms specifically designed for mental health professionals – rather than generic medical consent forms – when obtaining permission from patients.
How do you add an electronic signature to a psychology consent form?
Adding an electronic signature field to a psychology consent form is a straightforward process. It is common practice to use online psychology consent forms, and e-signature software like PandaDoc can be used to create and host these types of digital documents. Allowing patients to add a legally-binding signature is as simple as dragging-and-dropping the relevant field into the document.
Whenever an individual signs a psychology consent form with PandaDoc, a saved copy is stored securely on servers compliant with the latest data protection laws. A time-stamped signature certificate is also generated automatically, thus adding a further layer of security.
Should you use a template to create psychology consent forms?
If you or your organization uses psychology consent forms on a regular basis, you will almost certainly benefit from using a template.
It is important to draft psychology consent forms in conjunction with your legal team. Access to a content library, which stores snippets of legally-robust text, enables you to copy-and-paste content while making minor adjustments, like adding fields for extra client information.
Use the free, fully-customizable sample consent form from PandaDoc to get started. You can tailor it to create unique psychology consent forms, and by streamlining your document workflow, you will almost certainly save time and money moving forward.
What are the benefits of using psychology consent forms?
Psychology consent forms fulfill two main functions.
First, psychologists have a legal and ethical obligation to obtain informed consent before administering treatment. While informed consent forms are common in most areas of healthcare, they are particularly important in regards to mental health, where patient risks can be high. Consent forms also ensure that the psychotherapist-patient relationship is protected by confidentiality rules.
Second, psychology consent forms include essential details about proposed treatment plans and possible side-effects and adverse outcomes. Thus, they fulfill a crucial informational role in ensuring that the patient is fully aware of what is being offered.
Why do psychologists use consent forms?
Psychologists use consent forms for ethical and legal reasons. For a psychologist to conduct services, a patient must be well informed of the important facts. The consent forms are used to expressly inform the patient of how they’re going to conduct the procedure (including risk and benefits) and to get their approval to move ahead.