Informed consent is a fundamental right of clients receiving professional help. Each client has the right to informed consent. It is the basic right because clients need assistance in becoming educated and willing participants in the therapy of their choice or treatment offered by a professional. The primary objective of the informed consent process is to guarantee clients the provision of updated, adequate, and accurate information about every aspect of the treatment to ensure that clients have sufficient understanding to consent to treatment. Furthermore, clients have a legal and moral right to expect an explanation of the treatment and have clear information about the necessity to record cases and participation in counseling plans. Without informed consent, no client should undergo the treatment or participate in the therapy. It is the primary responsibility of the counselor to provide clients all information that may affect the decision of the person to consent to the treatment. In other words, clients should be given all data to make adequate and informed choices about the treatment, therapy, counseling, or any other professional help.
From a legal perspective, there are three key elements ensuring adequate informed consent: capacity, comprehension, and voluntarism. Capacity is the ability of the client to make rational decisions. If the client lacks the ability to make sound and rational decisions, a guardian is given the right to authorize informed consent. Comprehension can be defined as an understanding of information. The comprehension aspect signifies that therapists and counselors are legally required to present clients with information in a clear manner. It is the responsibility of the therapist/counselor to ensure clients are given adequate information about procedures as well as their potential consequences and understand this information thoroughly and in detail. All answers to the questions of the client should be given. In particular, the clients should be notified about the goals of the program, services, expectations, and any risks involved in the therapy. Voluntarism means acting freely and having an opportunity to withdraw consent at any time and for any reason. It means that the client is the decision-maker. It is important to add that voluntarism holds clients free in their choice to continue or withdraw treatment. However, voluntarism signifies that clients are legally and psychologically capable and competent to give or withdraw consent. The voluntarism aspect is important because it gives clients the power to choose to enter the therapeutic process.
Informed consent is a fundamental legal right of the client. It gives the client an opportunity to require information about the treatment, procedures, risks, consequences, etc. It puts clients into the position of decision-makers. At the same time, informed consent shifts responsibility for becoming a participant of the program to the client. Capacity, comprehension, and voluntarism are the three legal aspects of informed consent which guide the therapist in ensuring that the clients enter the program voluntarily and are knowledgeable on all matters related to the treatment. Moreover, these three aspects guarantee the adequate protection of the client’s rights. In summary, therapists and counselors must help each client make informed consent and ensure that their rights are protected effectively.