I get many calls from friends and relatives enquiring about therapy for other people.
We appreciate and respect that you may be well-meaning and caring but the law prevents us from discussing anything at all about a third party’s case with you, including potential costs involved in therapy.
If a therapist or their staff member is doing that on the telephone, they are breaking the law.
Patients, by law, are entitled to absolute confidentiality around every single item of their therapy, including costs, unless they are a minor, ward of court or you are their official carer deemed by the courts and acting on their behalf.
As well as being legally bound to abide by these laws, I am also ethically obliged to observe these boundaries as a therapist.
Sometimes people say they will be paying for the person’s therapy. This makes no difference. The patient still has to telephone themselves, make their own enquiry and book their own appointment (the friend or relative can still pay when the client themselves has made the appointment).
There will be questions we will need to ask a potential patient on the telephone to assess if they are suitable for treatment and you cannot answer for them because you are not the patient. Some of that information will be sensitive which you are not entitled to know about because again it is covered by confidentiality.
In coming into therapy a patient must be self-motivated so they are engaged and invested in the therapeutic process which begins with making the enquiries themselves.
Getting someone else to make those enquiries for them does not show me that they are self-motivated and this is one of the things I want to see before someone is considered or accepted as a patient.
What you may want for or believe a potential patient needs may not be what they want for themselves, even though they may be saying to you that they want help.
What I say is that the best thing you can do is sit the person down so they can view the relevant page on my website, then if they want to contact us we would be happy to hear from them.
My clinic policy is that I only take enquiries and bookings from patients themselves.
By law in NSW that means from 16 years onwards. In NSW the law determines that someone from 16 years old onward can access healthcare privately without their parents’ knowledge and consent, and give private information to be gathered in the consultation.
The therapeutic contract, confidentiality and duty of care is always directly and only with the patient and never with a third party, even if the third party is paying.
The financial contract, if you are paying for someone else’s therapy, is directly with you, the payee, not with the patient.
So when a third party is paying for someone else’s therapy, there are two separate contracts.
If you are helping a patient with fees, we will contact you to make arrangements for those fees only when we have assessed if a patient is suitable for treatment on the telephone and an appointment for the patient has been made by them.
There are hundreds of pages on my website that give large amounts of information so a patient can consider whether the treatments offered are right for them.
If they decide we might be able to offer them help, I am happy to hear from them by telephone to answer any questions they may have and to assess if they are suitable for treatment.