Testimony on HB 5569: An Act Requiring Mental Health Professionals To Provide New Patients With A Psychotherapy Information Disclosure Statement Public Health Committee

The National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter does not see a need for legislating requirements as indicated in HB 5569. The anticipated benefits of this bill are actually part of standard practices normally conducted by mental health providers at the time of initial intake with a client. Both in agency and private practice settings procedures are already in place that provide the kinds of information sought by this proposed bill.

It is common practice that during the initial appointment with a client information is shared by the mental health provider as to the treatment modalities utilized, HIPPA requirements and documents are provided, limits to confidentiality are discussed, fee schedule and cancellation policy is noted, as are any other parameters to the treatment and client/provider relationship.

The NASW Standards for Clinical Social Work in Social Work Practice spell out the requirements as follows: Agencies providing clinical social work services and clinical social workers in private or independent practice shall develop and implement written policies that describe their office procedures, such as the client’s rights, including the right to privacy and confidentiality; notices and authorizations; procedures for release of information, fee agreements; procedures for payment; cancellation policy; and coverage of services during emergency situations or when the clinical social worker is not available. These policies shall be made available to and reviewed with each client at the beginning of treatment.

In the event that an individual is not satisfied with the treatment they have received by a licensed mental health provider there is a process where complaints can be filed with the Department of Public Health. Information on how to file a complaint is readily found on the DPH website under the Licensure and Regulation link http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?a=3121&q=387678&dphNav_GID=1821 or can be accessed by contacting DPH. Likewise the various professional associations have processes for filing complaints against providers who are members of the professional association. HB 5569 will not address possible dissatisfaction with a provider that cannot be anticipated or avoided by a disclosure statement.

We also understand that the issues leading to this bill included concerns as to referral to another provider. NASW recommends to our members that whenever possible a client seeking another mental health provider be given multiple provider names. Again this is standard practice when feasible. There are times that the specialty required, insurance coverage, or geographic area may limit available providers, but other than such circumstances practice protocol does call for giving a client more than one mental health provider to select from.

The current standards of practice and statutory requirements such as HIPPA makes it unnecessary to legislate a disclosure form as HB 5569 calls for.


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