Our Court Policy
Please be advised that counselors do not appear in court for their clients regarding custody, visitation, and instances where the counselor/client relationship could be damaged.
A counselor appearing in court is often damaging for the therapeutic relationship and should be avoided.
If a counselor is subpoenaed for court, Integrative Counseling Services, PLLC requires a $500 flat-rate fee for attending court or being on-call.This must be paid prior to the on-call date.
Counselors will provide a treatment summary for the court, upon request. You must request this paperwork with at least one-week notice.
Custody and Court
Frequently Asked Questions
Will my child’s counselor testify in court to help me gain custody of my child?
Answer: We do NOT think it is helpful for counselors to participate in custody court hearings.
Explanation: As Mental Health Counselors (MHCs), we advocate for child clients when they are in dangerous or harmful situations, but we do not act in the role of investigator, mediator, or decision-maker regarding children’s custody. We are NOT custody experts. Children, like adults, need a space to act out and/or talk about the situations they face, and counseling offers them a space where they are able to sort through what they feel and why, and we provide a nonjudgmental support to rely on. However, when we as MHCs are asked to share children’s personal information that does not involve safety or harm in court, clients often see this as a betrayal of trust. If we are asked to speak for them or about them without them present and without their consent, we risk damaging the therapeutic nature of counseling. Confidentiality is important in children’s counseling, as it is in adult’s counseling, and your child’s counselor does not want to break the trust they work hard to earn.
If my child’s counselor will not testify in court, what can they do for my child?
Answer: We provide a space for your child to process the change that is occurring, and help them find healthy ways to learn about and cope with the feelings that arise from the situation. We also work with parents to help them find ways to stay connected with their children and explain the changes that are happening.
Explanation: As Mental Health Counselors, we offer your child a space to be as they are and to build self-awareness and coping strategies for dealing with the struggles life hands them. Children are usually not verbal processors, and instead need other ways to communicate, like play, art, and talking about themselves instead of the issues that bring them to counseling. We hope to build positive relationships with the children we work with so that they feel comfortable saying what they need to say and/or communicating in the way they feel most comfortable. In families deciding custody, we hope to provide a space where children can process the changes in their lives. We translate what the child is working on in session to the parents, and help parents feel supported in dealing with their own changes. Our counselors work with parents to help them learn ways of working together with their children that helps them cope with change. We also appreciate parents who are able to maintain a co-parenting relationship that is civil, since the parents’ abilities to work together has the most impact on children’s well-being through that process.
Can I get a copy of my child’s session notes so I know what’s happening in their sessions?
Answer: Legally, you are able to. However, we do not think this is helpful unless they are being used for purposes of evaluation, transfer of care, continuation of care, or assistance in acquiring additional services. At Integrative Counseling, we prefer to write treatment summaries, which allow our counselors to summarize their observations and recommendations in the context of the child’s overall treatment.
Explanation: Parents are often interested in understanding what their children work on in counseling. As counselors, we understand that parents are looking out for their children. We offer consultations as a way to translate what happens in session in a way that is helpful for parents at home. We respect our clients’ rights to confidentiality, and find it helpful to answer questions, offer suggestions, and discuss our work directly with parents or caregivers. Finally, certified/registered play therapists are the only professionals qualified to interpret play therapy notes. Our counselors are trained in identifying the themes and communication within certain types of play, and the counselor’s notes are written in a way that someone outside of the field would not be able to accurately understand them. Play therapy is an evidenced-based therapy, and play therapists go through extensive training to understand the language of play, which is usually the only language child clients have mastered in their young lives.