Do Psychiatrists and Therapists Record Their Sessions?

Published: May 23, 2017
Dear TeenHealthFX,

Do psychiatrists and therapists still record their sessions? Are they legally allowed to do it without your permission or knowledge?

Signed: Do Psychiatrists and Therapists Record Their Sessions?

Dear Do Psychiatrists and Therapists Record Their Sessions?,

There are some mental health providers who like to record sessions in either a video or audio format. For those who do record sessions the main purpose is to ensure they are providing the best treatment possible to their clients. Whether the mental health provider is reviewing recordings to see if there are things that they missed during the session that need to be revisited in a following session, or they are bringing the recording to a supervisor who can provide valuable feedback on how to best address the presenting problems, the goal is be the most effective mental health treatment provider they can be.

If you have a psychiatrist or therapist who does ask to record a session, one way you can look at it is that they are very dedicated and committed to their work with you because they want to take the time outside of session to ensure they are providing you with the best possible treatment.

As for your question about the legalities of it, mental health providers are not legally allowed to record sessions without a client’s permission. They must obtain consent from a client, which is usually done in written form. The consent would outline what the recordings would be used for and who might view them. For example, it would specify if only the therapist is going to use the recording or the therapist is also going to share the recording with a clinical supervisor (someone who is also a professional in the field). The therapist would also be storing the recordings in some format which is HIPPA compliant. HIPPA compliance involves the U.S. legislation that provides patient data privacy and security. How recordings are stored would be explained to you and/or written out in the signed consent.

If you are currently meeting with a psychiatrist or therapist and are wondering about this, the best thing to do would be to directly ask them if they ever talk to clients about recording their sessions. Most therapists do not record sessions, so do not be surprised if the answer is “no”.

TeenHealthFX is not sure why you are asking this question, so if there is anything you are still wondering about regarding this topic, please feel free to write in with another question.

Signed: TeenHealthFX