The History and Current Status of Informed Consent

Abimbola Farinde


The purpose of this article is to examine the process of informed consent as it relates to the practice of psychology and as a part of Human relations Standards (3.10) of the American Psychological Association Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct. Before a psychologist provides any type of psychological service to a client/patient, whether it involves conducting research, administering a test or assessment/ therapy, counseling, clinical supervision, or providing consulting services, he or she must ensure that informed consent is obtained (oral, written, or other methods). This information must be delivered using language that is reasonably understandable to a competent individual. The term reasonably understandable describes the level of complexity and completeness that is required of psychologist when obtaining informed consent. The process of informed consent implies that a patient/client is made fully aware of the purpose as to why a service is being provided, the intended use of the information, and the benefits and risks associated with the process, involvement of any third parties, and limits and risks of confidentiality. It is recognized as a decision-making process where a psychologist communicates sufficient information to a potential client/patient so that he or she is able to make a well-informed decision as to whether they will participate in the professional relationship. If any information is taken during the session whether it is written, video, or audio, the client/patient is to be made aware of how this information will be used, if it will be released or disclosed to others a formal writing is to be provided indicating who these individuals will be. While the informed consent process is recognized as an important aspect for any psychologist to cover when it involves providing any type of service to a client this can often times be neglected which places the psychologists in jeopardy for lawsuits or loss of licensure. The informed consent process, is just that, a process, and not a single event not only protects the privacy rights of the client/patient but safeguards the psychologist from being liable in the case that a client/patient reports they were not adequately informed about a psychological service.

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