One of Ebenezer's primary missions is to serve you and your child by providing a safe place for your child to work through his or her emotional issues and to cope well with the stresses of growing up, dealing with change, or recovering from trauma. There are a variety of issues when counseling children and adolescents.

It is our hope that the following guidelines will help you through the complexity of confidentiality issues, Tennessee Law, HIPAA rights, and the need to clarify the interests and rights of both parents in cases of divorce. These policies are broken into three main categories; individuals under the age of 15 whose parents who are not divorced, individuals under the age of 15 whose parents are divorced, and the third category are individuals who are 16 or 17.


Emergency Situations

In cases of emergency (usually meaning life threatening issues or child abuse), therapists at Ebenezer can see you and/or your child for one session to assess the situation and to make recommendations.


Individuals under 15 with Parents Not Divorced

Your child may accompany you and/or your spouse to the first session, unless you as a parent want to meet individually with the therapist first. Either parent or both parents will need to bring the child in for the first session.The therapist may want to meet with you for at least a part of the first session with or without your child depending on the preference of the therapist.

Intake forms are available in our office or on the paperwork page here.


Individuals under 15 with Parents Divorced

Therapists meet with at least one parent at the first session without the child. Do not bring your child to the first session unless there is an emergency. Bring the entire parenting plan and/or legal documentation to the first session. If there is joint authority for mother and father, both parents must agree for your child to be seen, and sign the respective paperwork. Payment can be from mother, father, or both; but payment must be made at or before the time of your child’s first visit.

Intake forms are available in our office or on the paperwork page here.


Individuals Who are 16 or 17

TN Law (See TCA 33-8-202) gives children ages 16 and 17 with “serious emotional disturbance “ or mental illness the same rights of privacy as adults with some exceptions. This means that TN Law gives 16 and 17 year olds who qualify the right to initiate therapy or counseling and the right to privacy of their health records. This also means that parents do not have rights to know when their 16 or 17 year old attends therapy, the goals of therapy, progress of therapy, issues discussed, or records related to therapy, unless given the rights by the 16 or 17 year old child.

When counseling 16 or 17 year old children, ECS therapists generally attempt to secure clarification of confidentiality rights with both the child and at least one parent unless the child who qualifies chooses not to. To achieve this clarification of privacy rights, the 16 or 17 year old would complete a release form that clarifies the limits of confidentiality. There are pros and cons with lesser or greater limits of confidentiality. The more confidentiality a child has, the more he or she would be free to be open with his or her therapist without fear of parent intervention, discipline or reprisal. However, potentially risky behaviors, such as, drug use, sex, or illegal activities would not be made known to parents. If the child agrees to lower limits of confidentiality, the therapist could inform the parent(s) of risky behaviors, but the child may hold back on disclosure.

ECS Therapists may meet with the child for one session without consent or knowledge of parents in cases of “serious emotional disturbance or mental illness” the therapist may meet with the client to assess the situation and help with a way forward. The child will be responsible for payment of this session. If one or both parents are to be involved in payments for therapy, the child must release ECS to discuss attendance and account information with the parent(s).

Parents Not Divorced:

At least one parent must sign the Payment-Insurance Form taking responsibility for the account. Either parent or both parents may bring the child in for the first session if the child has not come by himself or herself. ECS Therapists will clarify the rights and limits of confidentiality with the child and the parents.

Parents Divorced:

At least one parent will bring in the parenting plan or other legal documentation of the divorce. Depending on the parenting plan, the financial responsibility for each parent will be clarified on the Divorced Parent Agreement Form. Either parent or both parents may bring the child in for the first session if the child has not come by himself or herself. ECS Therapists will clarify the rights and limits of confidentiality with the child and the parents. The child may choose to include only one or both parents.