What is informed consent in psychology Benefits How to make

In the initial phase of the professional relationship, the psychologist will provide the individual, group, institution or community, whether users or clients, with adequate and understandable information about their services, purposes and modalities. In this article we will provide you inforamtion about informed consent in psychology.

In addition, it must also report on the degree and legal limits of confidentiality. Therefore, the mental health professional works so that those who have the right to do so can express informed consent.

Want to know more about it? In this Psychology-Online article we will see more about Informed Consent: what it is and how to do it .

What is informed consent in psychology

The relationship established between the patient/client and the psychologist is a relationship of trust that must be based on certain rules. These rules must be provided by the psychologist at the beginning of the professional relationship so that the patient/client can express their informed consent.

This is an ethical and legal term defined as a client’s consent to a proposed mental health or psychotherapeutic procedure, or even participation in a research project or clinical trial.

What aspects are included in informed consent

The word consent derives from Latin and from the etymological point of view means “approval of an act”. In the medico-legal context, consent is an act of will with which others are given the possibility to work to satisfy the person’s rights or the right to health.

Objectively, the psychologist will provide the patient with adequate and clear information about:

  • The type of health services provided.
  • Determination of objectives.
  • Predictable deadlines and methodology.
  • Intervention limits.
  • Possibility of withdrawing informed consent.

Therefore, information on costs and the processing of personal data are not included in the content of the informed consent.

Benefits of informed consent in psychology

All medical treatment, including clinical activities of a psychological type, requires the user’s consent after having been informed of the benefits, such as the purpose and alternative interventions, in order to be able to freely choose whether or not to undergo the intervention. Informed consent is, therefore, a factor of expression of the individual’s freedom and the right to self-determination, in which it is included among the fundamental rights recognized by legal systems.

Thus, the concept of informed consent arises from the recognition that individuals have the right to freedom, autonomy and human dignity. The premise of all health treatment lies in the free and conscious choice of the person who undergoes this treatment.

Informed consent, therefore, must be free and unbiased . It is necessary to consider the person who will receive the health treatment as an active subject and participant in the decision-making processes related to it.

How to make informed consent in psychology

How is informed consent made in psychology? In general, the informed consent process consists of three parts:

1. Provide customer information

The psychologist must communicate the nature, risks, and benefits of the procedure , treatment, research, or any other eventuality to which the client consents. This also includes the professional’s authorization to issue information, communicate by e-mail, register a session, etc.

At this stage, the client can ask questions and participate in a dialogue or discussion in which the psychologist, if any, should offer viable alternatives to treatment to allow the person to have a clear view of all options. On the other hand, information about the most likely outcomes of the treatment should also be presented to the patient and the delivery of information in a clear and simple way.

2. Assess the client’s ability to understand the information

The psychologist should assess whether the person has the ability to understand the information and ensure that they are competent to make an informed decision about their medical care or treatment. Once it has been verified and the necessary information has been provided, the professional must determine whether the information provided has been understood or not.

Thus, the psychologist will need to be able to ensure that the client clearly understands and accepts the risks of the procedure, study or treatment. When possible and appropriate, the psychologist will be able to verify that the individual is proceeding with the final option with full prior knowledge of its risks and benefits.

3. Obtain customer consent

Finally, the client must acknowledge that he has been informed and express his informed consent. The informed consent must be in writing and duplicated (one copy will be for the professional and the other for the patient/client), and must contain all technical aspects and not related to the professional performance.

However, on some occasions it can also be acquired by video recording or, in the case of a person with a disability, through devices that allow them to communicate.

Content of informed consent

The content of informed consent varies from situation to situation. In general, it should include the description of the intervention, the treatment, the procedure and the dissemination of information. Thus, this consent can also include the alternative options, the risks and benefits and the exact nature of the treatment, which in certain cases do not clearly apply and must be further explored.

The scope and depth of information provided varies from situation to situation . Thus, consent to disclose information often includes other aspects, such as who is the entity to whom the information is provided, what type of information must be disclosed, the purpose of publication and the time limit or period during which such disclosure is authorized.

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