Often people want to see their therapist’s notes when they become dissatisfied with their therapy and haven’t been able to resolve the problem through discussing it with the therapist. Usually, when therapy seems to be working, people don’t care what’s in their records. Whatever the reason may be for you to see your records, you have the right to see it.
If you live in California, you should put your request for seeing your records in writing and, once your therapist receives your request, they have four options:
1) Allow you to inspect the records within 5 days;
2) Provide you with the copy of the records within 15 days (they may charge you up to $0.25 per page copied);
3) Provide you with the treatment summary within 10 days;
If the records are extensive, the allowable time to produce a summary extends up to 30 days. Therapists are allowed to charge a “reasonable fee” for the time they’ve spent writing the summary. (In my experience, therapists often interpret a “reasonable fee” as identical to the fee for their professional services, so be prepared to pay a considerable amount in case your therapist decides to charge you for the time they’ve spent writing up a summary of your records.)
4) Refuse to let you see your records;
This choice is made when the therapist believes that seeing the records will have a detrimental effect on your well-being. In case when the therapist makes such choice, they are usually required to document their clinical justification for not allowing the client to see the records and to inform the client that the records might be disclosed to other licensed professional upon the client’s request.
The above procedure of obtaining therapy records is used in California. If you want to know what the law says about psychotherapy records in your state, please contact your state’s licensing board for more information.
If you are not happy with what is stated in your clinical records, the following post will tell you what you can do about it “I don’t like what my therapist wrote in my records. What can I do about it?”