Liability Insurance Designed Specifically for Social Workers

Checklist to use when starting therapy with a new client

Checklist to use when starting Therapy with a new client


Starting therapy with a new client is an important milestone for both parties involved in the process of therapy. For that reason, Social Workers need to create a checklist of the process and come to agreement with the new client before starting therapy. Below is a helpful checklist to get you started. You can of course create your own list to stay on track, helpful and compliant.

New Client Checklist:

  • Disclose payment and business rules at the inception of the client relationship:
    • Get this all in writing. At minimum:
      • Visitation procedures
      • Office rules
      • Fee schedule
      • Payment requirements
      • All incidental expenses (such as document copying)
  • All disclosures must be in writing to eliminate false accusations and misunderstandings. Licensing Boards favor practitioners with supporting documentation and process rules in place. Make the client sign and date all forms which show evidence of notice. Retain all of these forms as a part of the client treatment file.
  • Before treatment, obtain a signed consent for treatment; and include all parents, guardians, and even participants as signers. Be sure to verify parental rights, and make reasonable efforts to determine whether the parent as a signatory, has the right to consent. Termination of the parent’s custody rights is a critical fact you need to document.
  • Also in writing, set forth the rules of confidentiality, including exceptions such as if the client is in imminent danger to others or self. Disclosure to law enforcement and medical personnel regarding threatening mental or emotional injury), must be in writing.
  • Pay attention to your state’s Licensing Board rules, such as:
    • No credits or rebates from referrals
    • No bartering such as hair styling for social work counseling services
    • No solicitation for favors to further practitioner’s personal or family needs or interests; (such as work references from the client for the practitioner’s child to get a job)
    • Dual relationships and practitioner-client privilege established in writing
    • Family members
    • Business associates and friends
    • Teacher, students
  • A documented file with signed agreements with all parties as a precondition to therapy will aid significantly to assert that the privilege is on behalf of the couple in the event a patient or the third party files a board complaint.

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