- Center for Ethical Practice - https://centerforethicalpractice.org -

Who Is The Client? How Do You Decide? Whom Must You Tell?

How we conceptualize, define, and explain “client” can sometimes have wider consequences than we expect. This workshop is designed to explore some of the ethical, clinical, legal, contractual, and financial implications of how we answer the question, “Who Is The Client?”


I. General Questions

What service is being provided? Who requested it?

Who receives the service? Who benefits?

Do other parties have a stake? What is their role? What is your role with them?

For whom does confidentiality apply?

Who receives the information generated by the services?

Who holds or waives privilege?

Who pays for the services?

II. Individual Therapy

Is a person in individual therapy always a “client” ?

If others join sessions, do they also become “clients”?

If you meet with “collaterals” alone, are they also “clients”?

Can someone never come and nevertheless be the “client”?

Contracted Agency; Court; Military; Other

III. Couple and Family Therapy

Are all participants equally “clients?” If not, why not?

Do they presume your role is the same with each?

Multiple Clients vs. Individual Client With “Collateral(s)”

What is the difference? Who gets to decide? Who must you tell?

IV. Child/Adolescent Therapy

Are parents actively involved?

If so, are they also “clients”?

How can you explain? To whom must you explain?

What are rules about disclosure to parents/others? Who gets to decide?

V. Evaluations for Third Parties – Contracted Client vs. Examinee

Who Is Really the Client?

Court-Ordered Evaluations

Agency-Conducted Evaluations

Employer-Required Evaluations

VI. How Contracts Can Affect or Determine “Client” Status

Employee Contracts (Must you accept your employer’s definitions of “client” ??)

Managed Care Contracts; Other Third Party Payer Contracts

Agency Contracts (DSS, Court Services, Schools, Other)

Organizational Contracts (Management Training; Coaching; Employee Assessment )

Creating Personalized Contracts for Clarifying “Who is the Client?”