Informed Consent

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The client should be provided enough information, in simple terms, to make an informed decision, given his/her mental or emotional state and overall ability to understand what is being provided. There are four main areas that should be discussed: (1) the nature of the treatment; (2) the risks and expected benefits associated with the treatment, including the likelihood of success; (3) any alternatives to treatment, including the alternative of no treatment, and their risks and benefits; and (4) any other information that may be required by the standard of practice in a specific case.

In discussing the nature of the treatment the counselor should be very thorough in his/her explanation of all that is going to occur from a treatment stand point. If the client is expecting one thing, and is receiving another I could see this being a huge problem for all parties involved.

Discussing the risks and expected benefits of treatment, including the likelihood of success if very important, as the client will need a clear layout of what is expected of him/her and the likelihood that they will be able to succeed in the current program they are in. If a client is not able to make a difference in their life via the current treatment plan, then it would seem to be a wise decision for the counselor to inform the client that they are not meeting expectations.

I believe it is only fair for the counselor to inform the client of any treatment alternatives, and the realities of not pursuing treatment at all. Some clients might do better in a different treatment facility, or getting treatment from an organization with a completely different focus and value system. I think it is the right thing to do, as the client usually knows his/herself the best, and they deserve the opportunity to pursue the best treatment for themselves.

In closing the last area is any other information that is specific to the case. As a counselor, it is very important to provide the best care possible...
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