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Kids No Longer Need Parental Consent to See a Shrink

Parental consent for mental health services

California kids decide on therapy

Starting January 1, 2011, California minors will be able too see a therapist without their parents’ consent.

A senate bill, SB 543, which was signed last month, creates a new right for minors to consent to their own mental health treatment if they are at least 12 years of age and the therapist believes the child is mature enough to “participate intelligently in the treatment.”

Prior to this bill, the only way a counselor or therapist could treat a minor was in the following extreme conditions:

The child had to be a serious physical threat to himself or others, or the victim of child abuse or incest. Otherwise, any child in need of support would need his parent’s permission to get it. The crafters of the bill say this is unfair for children of families that do not believe in mental health treatment and wouldn’t consent no matter how much their kid was struggling.

Now more kids will have access to school or private psychologists — and therapists don’t need to document a major physical threat to be able to help kids in need. I know school therapists and I’ve been one myself — I think easier access to help is a good thing, there are lots of cases in which kids need support for a family or personal trouble that they can’t address with their parent, or the parent is in denial or protective about sharing.

As before, though, no child can receive medication or inpatient treatment without a parent’s consent.

What do you think? Is easier access for kids good, or are you against the thought of kids consenting to treatment without adults knowing?

Image: flickr/wonderlane

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