Clinical Writing About Clients: Is Informed Consent Sufficient?

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The use of client information in clinical writings or presentations may be very helpful in advancing the knowledge base of the profession. Yet, the very act of asking a client for permission to use their treatment information in this way may be detrimental to the therapeutic alliance and treatment process. As such, great care must be taken in how such issues are considered and acted upon. Sieck's article (2011, Obtaining clinical writing informed consent versus using client disguise and recommendations for practice. Psychotherapy, 49, pp. 3–11.) on the use of informed consent for obtaining permission to use a client's treatment information for professional writing and presentations is examined and discussed. The nature and role of the informed consent process is accentuated; psychotherapist needs and goals and client vulnerabilities are each addressed in the context of the relevant sections of the APA Ethics Code and each psychotherapist's obligation to act only in ways consistent with each client's best interests. Recommendations for a thoughtful consideration of these issues are presented, consistent with Sieck's proposed decision-making process for use in these situations.

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