Right to see medical records
I had weekly therapy for depression for over a year. My therapist was empathetic in all areas except being willing to share with me whether she thought depression was my only diagnosis. Even when I would request her professional opinion (outside observation) she would not answer my question. She'd always ask me what I thought I had. To me it didn't matter what I thought or didn't think I had. I'm not a mental health professional. My judgment and experience in evaluating myself have often proven faulty. Also, some time into the therapy I began keeping a journal about the insight I was gaining. I asked to see my records to glean what I had learned from the early weeks, but she kept asking me why; she kept insinuating I had "trust issues." I was devastated and humiliated.
Was it inappropriate to ask to see my records or to know what she thought about my diagnosis and progress? I feel like I can't get any closure.
Dear Baffled About Therapy Rights,
I must say that although I have heard of this type of complaint many times before, it always surprises me that this would be a problem. It is possible that she was trying to empower you by letting you know that she felt you had good judgment and would be able to accurately diagnose yourself. It is also possible that she truly believes you have trust issues and she could be correct, and was using this issue as a therapeutic approach to deal with that issue.
It is also possible that she felt you were being manipulative and she did not want to play into that. She also might have thought that the information would be damaging to you, as you could overreact. All of these are possible.
However, it is also possible that she is a very traditional therapist who feels that a certain distance needs to be maintained with a client. This is often a sign of an authoritative and insecure therapist. If either of these last reasons is correct, I would look at it as the mark of a poor counselor.
If she was trying to empower you, I believe that there would be more effective ways to do this. If it was due to trust issues, again I would confront those in a different way and over other issues if I was the therapist. If she believed you were being manipulative, she could have confronted that and still given you the information. If she believed that it would be damaging to you, I would think that she was not giving you enough credit.
Clients should always have access to any information that would help them become better acquainted with their issues. Education is a part of good therapy. This has always been the case and most therapists view it this way. Recently however the government has passed laws, HIPAA laws, which expressly give clients and patients the right to view their records. I believe this law was passed in 1997. Therefore, she is in violation of that act and you can formally demand to see your records in writing. Since these laws were passed, she has no choice in the matter. I would seriously reevaluate whether this is the type of therapist you want to work with.
Jef Gazley, M.S., LMFT
This question was answered by Jef Gazley M.S. Jef has practiced psychotherapy for twenty-five years, specializing in Love Addiction, Hypnotherapy, Relationship Management, Dysfunctional Families, Co-Dependency, Professional Coaching, and Trauma Issues. He is a trained counselor in EMDR, NET, TFT, and Applied Kinesiology. He is dedicated to guiding individuals to achieving a life long commitment to mental health and relationship mastery. His private practice locations are Scottsdale and Tempe, Arizona. You can also visit Jef at the internettherapist, the first audiovisual mental health online counseling center on the net.For more information visit: http://www.asktheinternettherapist.com/