Can A Therapist Tell Your Parents?
Whatever your reason for therapy might be, it’s completely normal to feel a little apprehensive – especially if you are a teen and are concerned about whether, or not, the personal information that you share with your therapist will remain between the two of you or not.
Today, this article is going to be talking you through confidentiality and disclosure rules regarding minors in therapy.
This will help to clear any confusion that you might have surrounding this, and provide you with the clarity you need to move forward with therapy.
Can A Therapist Tell Your Parents?
Before we jump any further into this article, it’s first important to note that the majority of rules surrounding confidentiality typically tend to change slightly, depending on which state it is that they have been made in.
For this reason, we strongly recommend that, alongside reading this article, you also make sure to check what the rules are surrounding disclosure and confidentiality in the state that you are planning on getting therapy in.
This might sound a little daunting, but rest assured that finding out what the laws are surrounding this issue specific to your state are a lot easier than you might think.
So much so, that in order to find out what the confidentiality and disclosure rules are specific to your state, all you are likely going to need to do is visit your state’s official website.
As a side note, make sure that you are using an official state website so that you can be sure that the information you are reading is accurate.
Still, to help prepare you for therapy and ensure that you feel empowered to move ahead with the process, below we are going to be talking you through some important things regarding the confidentiality of minors in therapy that you should know about.
Let’s check them out below – feel free to take notes.
Things That Therapists Will Be Ethically And Legally Required To Share With Your Parents
When it comes to therapy, it’s very important to keep in mind that therapists are legally required to follow a set of ethical and legal guidelines that are usually put in place by their license board and state.
So, with that being said, when it comes to the law, there are certain things that a therapist must disclose to your parents.
To give you a better understanding of what this means, a therapist will be required to disclose confidential information to a parent or guardian if they feel that you or someone else is at risk of harm.
In addition, therapists will also be required to make parents aware of any implication of non-consensual sex, or if there has been a sexual encounter with someone that is significantly older.
To follow on, if a minor discloses to their therapist that they have had suicidal thoughts in the past, then the therapist will usually encourage an open discussion to help gain a better understanding of why that was, as well as to address any underlying problems or traumas so that they can be overcome.
It’s important to keep in mind that if this was something experienced in the past, then a therapist may decide to not share this with a parent or guardian.
Needless to say, keep in mind that a therapist is required by law to take the proper safety measures to ensure the wellbeing of a minor if they feel there is sufficient reason to do so.
As an example, if a minor disclosed to their therapist that they were presently suicidal, then the therapist would be obligated to act on this information to ensure their safety.
Alongside this, it is also important to note that, regardless of what state a therapist is practicing in, they will be legally obligated to share any suspected sexual abuse.
In these types of instances, a therapist will be required to raise the concerns so that they can be investigated. Sometimes but not always, a parent or guardian may be informed.
However, as we have already mentioned above, the majority of laws will be decided by the state that you are planning to get the therapy in.
This means that what a therapist is legally and ethically required to share with a parent or guardian might differ slightly from what we have included above.
Do Parents Have To Consent To Therapy?
For the most part? No, parents will not need to consent to their child having therapy. This means that minors have the opportunity to take therapy sessions without needing to disclose to their parents that they are doing so.
However, whether, or not, a therapist will accept a minor as a client will usually depend on whether, or not, the therapist feels that the minor fully understands what it is that they are consenting to, and whether, or not, they will benefit from the therapy in the first place.
As a side note, if you are currently considering therapy and you are a minor, whether a therapist will feel obligated to share this with your parents will ultimately depend on the state that you are in.
As an example, in some states minors as young as 12 are allowed to consent to therapy (and other types of treatment) without requiring the consent of their parents – so it’s important to make sure that you are doing your research.
Alongside this, if you do proceed with therapy and it is not something that you would like to share with your parents or guardians, your therapist will be required to make notes of each session that you have in your record.
Therapy can be a scary thought. But, the more that you know about it, the more confident you will feel to take the leap of faith towards it.
We hope that this has been helpful and that you now have a clearer understanding of confidentiality rules regarding minors in therapy. Thank you for reading.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: September 24, 2023