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TherapistMarryAnn, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5804
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Why is it that patient access to psychiatric records is sometimes

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Why is it that patient access to psychiatric records is sometimes restricted? What is the driving philosophy here?

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.


You have the legal right to see your psychiatric records, with exception the notes the psychiatrist or other professional that treated you wrote while you were in treatment. This is because any notes the therapist made are the product of what they thought and are not about you directly as the patient and therefore belong to them. Notes are a way of writing out impressions, ideas, possible past or current issues and other thoughts the therapist has during the sessions. They are very individualized, so one therapist may just jot a few reminders down while another may write a page or two. But because they are thoughts that belong to the therapist, they are not subject to the law.


There also may be part of the records that the therapist considers harmful to the patient if seen. They may withhold this part of the records. They may also withhold other parts as well. But if they choose to do so, an explanation as to why they are being withheld must be provided. And the patient has the right to pursue their inquiry further if they still feel they want to see the record.


Sometimes a patient is allowed to see the record, but only if a therapist is present to explain the sections that may be upsetting. The goal here is to not cause further harm to the patient while they exercise their right to see their medical records.


I hope this has helped you,

Customer: replied 5 years ago.


I think you have a good point, and I really appreciate your candid response.


I guess I just feel very strongly that I want to have as much information as I can possibly get. I know that things might upset me, but I feel I can get over that. Ideally, i would like to see the whole kitten-kaboudlile - the whole thing, including the therapist notes. I really want to know - even if the "truth" (obviously subjective) hurts. As a history professor, I have a powerful curiousity about the human condition, all the more so if it is my condition. So I want to see everything. What do you think?

You can certainly request to see everything but unless you push the point legally, it may not happen. The therapist's notes are the therapist's property, so that most likely will not happen even if you push legally. But the rest of the information you may have a shot at seeing. It is always worth a try. But before you do, consider consulting legal aid or your attorney to be sure of how much you can push and if you need an attorney present with you to ensure your rights.



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