Psychotherapy may be a new and different experience for you, and in some ways may be confusing. Misunderstandings now can lead to problems with your therapy later. Your therapy will be more successful if you know what to expect and what your rights are from the beginning.
The Right to Ask Questions
Many elements of treatment vary from patient to patient. You should know how they apply to you specifically. Following are some questions you may want to ask about your individual treatment and choices:
1. What are the benefits and risks of my treatment? 2. Are there alternative treatments? 3. How likely is my treatment to be successful? 4. If I am unhappy with my therapy or with you, what do I do about it?
Where do I Turn for Help?
Before therapy begins. you also should discuss the logistics of your treatment. Misunderstandings about costs and arrangements can be a potential source of trouble, so make sure you understand everything from the beginning. Discuss what the time and length of your appointments will be, and agree about what will happen if you miss one or want to schedule an extra appointment.
The Right to Satisfaction
You always have the right to ask your therapist questions, whether these are about how the therapy will operate or about your therapist’s own credentials and training. Remember, if you are not satisfied with the therapy, you can end it at any time.
Be sure, however, that you’re not terminating simply because you’re feeling bad—that’s to be expected as your therapy does its work. On the other hand, if you find you are always uncomfortable with a therapist, try to figure out why so you can decide whether to continue or to terminate. You don’t have to love your therapist for your treatment to work, but you do need to trust him or her.
The Right to Confidentiality
You are protected by confidentiality in your discussions with your therapist. This means that, in general, your therapist is legally prohibited from revealing any information about your visits, including that you are in therapy in the first place.
Like any rule, however, this one has exceptions. If one of these exceptions applies to your therapy, and your therapist needs to break your confidentiality, it may seem to you like a violation of trust. For this reason, it is important that you know about these exceptions before your therapy begins.