3 Documents Therapists Must Have in Their Office
Pictured above: a therapy office with white walls, two gray chairs, a tall green plant to the right, and a wooden side table to the left.
When it comes to decorating an office or designing a website, mental health clinicians are mindful to create a professional, yet inviting environment to greet their clients. However, mental health professionals need more than a noise machine and aesthetically pleasing artwork to get their spaces ready. In fact, here are three documents every clinician must have in their office.
Notice of Privacy Practices
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, HIPAA Privacy Practices are notices that must be provided to clients that inform them of how their health information is used and shared. Such notices must include legal obligations clinicians must take to protect clients’ information, limits to confidentiality, an outline of a client’s rights to access their medical records and limit how their protected health information is shared, information on how to file a complaint with the US Department of Health and Human Services if they believe their rights have been violated, and information on whom to contact if there are further questions about an agency’s privacy practices.
According to HIPAA, clinicians must provide their privacy practices to clients no later than the first date of service and obtain written acknowledgement from the clients that they have received the document before services are rendered. Privacy practices must also be immediately available to any client who requests a copy, prominently displayed in public view in the facility in which services are rendered, and, if applicable, available to download from the clinician or agency’s website.
License and Renewal Wallet Card
According to the LPC Permanent Rules, the LMFT Permanent Rules, and the LADC Permanent Rules, a clinician’s license and most recent wallet card must be “prominently displayed” in the primary place of practice. If practicing outside of the office, as in when facilitating home-based sessions, current wallet cards must be on hand at all times while practicing.
Good Faith Agreement
In January 2022, the No Surprises Act went into law, which requires healthcare professionals to provide written disclosure of the expected cost of treatment before services begin in the form of a Good Faith Agreement. According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, clients who are either uninsured or opting to privately pay for services must receive a written, itemized “Good Faith Estimate” of the expected cost of their medical treatment before services begin. Clinicians must also obtain written acknowledgement from the client that they have received and reviewed their Good Faith Estimate at least 1 day before the initial appointment. Like privacy practices, the No Surprises Act mandates that disclosures of the act are also prominently displayed in public view in the facility in which services are rendered and, if applicable, available to download from the clinician or agency’s website.