This post might be helpful to those, who have obtained the copy or the summary of their therapy records (Read more about therapy records.) If you believe some of the things in your records do not reflect accurately what was discussed in therapy or if you don’t agree with your therapist’s perceptions of you and your problems, you have the right to amend what the therapist wrote. Amending records means writing down your objections to each item in the records you believe to be incorrect or incomplete and stating (also in writing) that you want your amendment/addendum to be a part of your records. The therapist is required to attach it to the records and release it along with the records any time he has to make a disclosure to the third party.
I assume the reason you want to voice your objections to what your therapist wrote is because you intend to involve the third-party into your dispute. The third-party might be another professional, a licensing board, a lawyer or someone else, who, you believe, is in a position to make a judgment about the matter of the dispute. Whoever that third party is, here are some tips for you on how to write an addendum that will be taken seriously and will make your words count.
- Focus on facts. Refrain from expressing your anger toward the therapist. You may have a very good reason to be angry with them, but you need to remember that in the eyes of others you are a “patient”, which means the “crazy” one by definition. Therefore, your anger, no matter how valid, would be seen as a proof of your “craziness”, which will hurt your credibility. By the way, when I suggest to refrain from expressing anger, that also includes sarcasm, because sarcasm is nothing but anger and aggression masked as humor.
- Point out contradictions. Any obvious contradiction the therapist makes in their notes that you are able to highlight will undermine their credibility and increase yours. Usually, contradictions in the therapist’s notes come as a result of them being defensive about mistakes they have made.
- Explain your side of the story clearly and concisely. This one goes along with focusing on facts. You have to be able to make a point and you may not have a lot of space to do so. California law, for example, will only allow you to use 250 words to amend each item of your records you find objectionable. With that in mind, make it clear for yourself what you are trying to say, so you can make it clear to others.
- Make it flow. Even though you may only be allowed to dispute each item in your records separately, do it in such way that the reader would be able to understand the whole story. Your comments all together have to make a good story that flows and makes sense.
Important note: The above information describes a general idea of amending therapy records and may not be factually accurate in every case. It is your responsibility to find out what your state law says about amending psychotherapy records.