For our industry, a minor refers to anyone under the age of 18. Informed consent is a huge part of treatment and during every session a therapist should be getting verbal consent from their client to proceed with the agreed approach for treatment. We also require a signed consent form on file, and for minors, this will need to be completed with the help of a parent or legal guardian.
When knowingly making an appointment for a child/minor:
Collect the usual details from the client in order to create a profile. Normally the contact details you would get would be that of the parent. If the child is old enough that they have their own, that's fine, but make sure that we get the parent's contact information as well. This will need to go in the emergency contact information section of the profile, as well as the alert section. If the parent has a profile with us, we will also want to create a relationship between the two profiles.
(See more information regarding Profile Relationships Here.)
Ask for the child’s age (we can collect exact DOB later from the initial intake form but always get their age to put on the appointment note as a flag for the therapist.)
When booking in a minor particularly a child up to the age of 14, you will likely find that an hour length will be too long for them. Standard appointment times don’t have to apply in this situation. Leave that to the parent, how long they feel the child might be comfortable for, and what they are wanting treatment on specifically.
Advise the parent/guardian that there is a New Patient form required for treatment which we will need them to fill out and sign on behalf of the child as they are under 18. If they would like to do this prior to treament we can send them a copy of the New Patient form via email to complete and return to us via email, or bring along with them. (If we have not received the return copy prior to treatment or they forget the form with them we will need to give them one on arrival).
If the parent asks if they are required to be there for the session:
Advise them that they are not required to be present after the form has been completed if they do not wish to be; however, it is definitely encouraged that they be present for the initial consultation (especially up till the age of 14). If they would like to be there for the duration of the treatment we can make sure they are in a comfortable room and there is space available for them. They are also free to wait in our waiting rooms and we can offer to make them a tea or coffee while they do so. If they would prefer to just drop the child off and pick them up, please advise that we do require them to do so directly in the clinic. We do not want minors (up till the age of 17) leaving/arriving to the clinic on their own.
What to do if a client arrives for an initial appointment independently and you discover that they are a minor (This would typically occur if the minor was 17 and able to drive themselves):
Advise the client that we do require the signature of a guardian on the form as they are under 18. Collect a mobile and email for the parent/guardian best to get in contact with, and let the therapist know quietly what is going on. If they are happy to proceed with treatment (they should be fine at this age), let the client know that you are going to send a copy of the form through to their parent asking for signature.
Send a text to the mobile number you have been provided as a heads up and then send an email through with the form attached.
Text Script Suggestion
“Hi ___, No More Knots Here! We have _____ here at the clinic for treatment, and as they are a minor under the age of 18, we require your assistance in completing their New Patient form. We have sent a copy through to your email _________. If you could please print, sign, and return a copy back to us that would be greatly appreciated. – Kindly NMK Reception”
Email Script Suggestion
Please see the attached file for a copy of ____ ‘s New Patient form. They have completed it with their details; however, as they are currently under the age of 18, it is our industry’s standard that we have consent from both the client and a guardian recorded.
If you could please assist us by signing and returning the attached form as soon as possible, that would be appreciated.
If you have any questions or concerns about the form, please let us know.
When treatment has been completed, please remember to advise the client again of the form and that you have sent a copy through to their parent/guardian. If you have not received a response from the parent/guardian, please ask the client to assist us by following up when they get home. If we have already received a response and the form returned, let the client know that everything has been sorted.
In the event that the therapist is not willing to treat the minor without the consent signature from a parent or guardian:
Double check our standard process (as above) and confirm that the therapist is definitely not willing to take the client in despite our procedure. If they are not, attempt to contact the parent/guardian with the assistance from the minor to obtain verbal consent over the phone.
“Hi ____, this is ____ calling from No More Knots. We have _____ here at the clinic for treatment, and as they are a minor under the age of 18 we just need your assistance in acquiring verbal consent from you for treatment to proceed today. Is that okay?”
Allow the parent/guardian to respond.
“Thank you very much for that. We will also email you a copy of ____’s New Patient form which we will just need you to sign the back of and return to us. Are you able to provide us with your best email contact?”
If parents/guardian’s get funny about requiring consent from them (particularly if the client is 17)
“We understand this might seem unusual as ___ is almost 18, but it is the standard for our industry to get consent from both the client and their guardian’s if the client is a minor. All is fine to proceed with treatment today, we just need your assistance in completing our New Patient form for ___ for their file. Apologies for any inconvenience but it is a legal requirement for us.”