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date: 15 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Informed consent, enshrined in many of the codes of conduct of psychology and psychiatry professional organizations, is an integral component behind the ethical practice of psychotherapy. Foundationally, informed consent respects patient autonomy and should be a knowledge sharing process that allows patients greater agency and improved alliance with their clinician. Psychotherapy differs from medical and surgical interventions in that it is a longitudinal, collaborative, and interpersonal treatment. As many psychotherapists are not trained in traditional medical models of care, a medically based framework for informed consent may not be as familiar and appropriate for psychotherapy. These nuances do not diminish the need for informed consent but rather emphasize the distinctiveness of psychotherapy and necessity of adapting to this treatment modality. In this chapter, the informed consent process for psychotherapy is examined, detailing its historical development, legal and ethical foundations, as well as the subtleties and challenges regarding implementation.

Keywords: psychotherapy, informed consent, ethics, psychology, psychiatry, self-determination, autonomy, legal, agency, mental disorder

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