Adolescents and consent to counseling: the adolescents' perspectives
Informed consent for counseling is a complex process for both clients and clinicians, even when individuals are over eighteen years of age. When working with adolescent minors, the process requires additional consideration. Informed consent, a legal term and ethical construct, is composed of tenets that require deliberate thought and action on the part of a therapist to ensure the client's understanding of the nature and expectations for counseling and voluntary participation. There are numerous legal and research controversies pertinent to competency of adolescents to accord informed consent for counseling and what procedures should be used to solicit adolescent consent for psychological interventions. Most studies assess competency of adolescent to consent for research participation or medical treatment (e.g. Lewis, C. E., Lewis, M. A., Ifekwunique, 1978 cited in Dorn et al., 1995; Weithorn & Campbell, 1982). Fewer surveys have assessed clinicians' views on informed consent for counseling with adolescents (Taylor et al., 1984; Beeman & Scott, 1991; Brunscheen, 2001). The current study sought to address counseling consent issues with adolescents by gaining the unique perspectives of adolescents ages 12--18 via a survey study. It addressed questions related to adolescents' perceptions as to the information they perceive as necessary for informed consent for counseling and the interactions they would prefer to have with mental health practitioners.