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Should therapists give their patients access to mental health notes?




A wax likeness of Austrian founder of the psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud sits in Berlin's Madame Tussaud's wax museum.
A wax likeness of Austrian founder of the psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud sits in Berlin's Madame Tussaud's wax museum.
CLEMENS BILAN/AFP/Getty Images

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At Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, therapists are giving mental health patients access to therapy notes and charts, something patients commonly have access to in other fields. The doctors behind the project say that opening mental health records up to patients allows for a more participatory, active, and collaborative therapy practice.

Critics argue that giving patients access to notes from therapy sessions could be upsetting or chilling to the way doctors communicate. While some patients are eager to use the notes from therapy as feedback and involve themselves in the process, others are skeptical about how they might use the notes, and have stayed away.

Could opening up mental health records to patients be potentially damaging or upsetting, or is it part of a more transparent and collaborative therapy practice? What’s the best way for therapists and patients to communicate? Would you want to see what your therapist wrote about you?

Guests:

Dr. Tom Delbanco, Richard and Florence Koplow - James Tullis Professor of General Medicine and Primary Care at Harvard Medical School Division, physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, co-director of OpenNotes

Dr. Brian Clinton, psychiatrist and assistant professor at Columbia University