WHAT ARE A CLIENT'S RIGHTS?


A client has the right to expect:

1. A counselor is to be above reproach, although not perfect.

2. A counselor is to provide necessary and correct information about degrees, licensing, fees, experience, etc. One should expect a counselor to have a minimum of a Master's degree in a related field and to charge reasonable fees that are not out of line with those charged by others in the local area.

3. A counselor is to provide information to him or her about the issue of confidentiality. (This is a legal and ethical agreement between a client and a counselor. The counselor is bound not to disclose any client information to anyone without that client's permission. In the case of a minor, confidentiality must be maintained unless the parents or guardians grant permission or otherwise specified by law. However, confidentiality is not absolute, meaning that there are two exceptions where information may be disclosed without client permission: (1) Where a "necessary third party," such as a secretary, is required to perform his or her duties. (2) When a counselor is obligated by law to inform others that a client may be a threat to himself or herself or others.)

4. A counselor will ensure a client's welfare at all times. (A counselor is legally and ethically bound never to abuse his or her power by taking financial, emotional or sexual advantage of a client who is often vulnerable during treatment. State laws differ, but generally speaking, it is legally and ethically wrong to develop a friendship or romantic or sexual relationship with a client for at least two years after the termination of treatment, and it may longer and even permanent.)

5. He or she can terminate treatment at any time, provided he or she is not under obligation to agreements, such as to fulfill a court order.

6. To be able to discuss any problems or conflicts he or she has with the counselor in an environment of safety and trust.

7. To secure information from state licensing boards and/or professional boards regarding the licensing of a counselor or to report ethical and legal violations. NJ licenses, along with the board's addresses, are required to be prominently posted in the waiting area or other room where the client may view the information.

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