Private Practice Paperwork Crash Course
CONSENT FOR SERVICES
Your Consent for Services is proof that you reviewed with your client the benefits and possible drawbacks of therapy, as well as the limits to confidentiality relevant to your state and professional standards. Not all states require a signed Consent Form but it is considered best practice. If you receive verbal consent only, you must at least document this in a note. Click here to see a sample of a very thorough Consent for Services or click here for a more brief example.
NOTICE OF PRIVACY PRACTICES
Your notice of privacy practices explains to your client how their information might be used and/or disclosed and the rights your clients have to their own records per HIPAA. Click here to see the model Notice of Privacy Practices created by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. There are three different graphic versions and one text version available in both English and Spanish.
AUTHORIZATION TO RELEASE/EXCHANGE INFORMATION
Whenever releasing any information regarding a client, you want clear documentation that you have permission to do so. Your authorization form should include very specific language about what information you are releasing, to whom you are releasing information, purpose of the release and basic identifying information of the client. Since confidentiality is so highly protected in mental health, I would recommend having clients sign this form and not relying on verbal consent. Each state has different requirements regarding the release of client information (some more stringent than HIPAA, some not). For that reason, I recommend doing a google search for "sample release of information mental health [insert state name]."
AUTHORIZATION FOR CREDIT CARD PAYMENTS
Most therapists nowadays offer payments through credit card. If you are not yet doing so, check out options from PayPal and Square. Your practice management system may also provide this service for you. If you'd like to keep your client's credit card number on file in order to charge for possible missed appointments it is a good idea to have an authorization form on file. This ensures your client is fully aware and in agreement of potential charges. Click here to see a sample form.
SOCIAL MEDIA POLICY
Most clients and therapists are now on social media. To avoid potential ethical dilemmas it is recommended you have a social media policy and review this with your clients during the first session. Dr. Keely Kolmes is considered an expert in social media and mental health. She has a sample policy on her website.