In situations where a person’s mental illness or addiction put their life or the lives of others at risk, a court may intervene and order treatment. Known as mandatory or court-ordered therapy, these sessions can provide people struggling with mental health the break they need to get their life back on track.
How Is Court-Ordered Therapy Different From Normal Therapy?
Perhaps the defining difference between mandatory and voluntary therapy is the idea of confidentiality. In many court-ordered therapy situations, the therapist may be required to share relevant information with the court.
For example, if a person is ordered to remain sober and attend therapy sessions, a therapist will be forced to tell the court if their patient admits they have not remained sober.
Mandated therapists are also required to report any non-compliance or non-attendance, which can result in jail time for their patients.
Reasons For Court-Ordered Therapy
An Alternative To Jail
In certain situations, a judge may decide that, rather than spending time behind bars, an offender with a mental illness or addiction issues must attend court-ordered therapy sessions. These cases often occur when minor offenses are committed, or when a person frequently finds themselves in front of a judge.
Florida allows individuals with repeated hospitalizations and multiple criminal offenses to attend outpatient treatment programs under a court order. To receive outpatient treatment, a court must find that the struggling person would not be able to function in a community without supervision, has been repeatedly hospitalized or incarcerated, and is not likely to voluntarily participate in treatment.
When parents file for divorce, a judge may request that either one or both parents attend therapy sessions. This occurs particularly in child custody disputes, where a judge may feel a parent requires a psychological evaluation.
Alternatively, a person may also need to attend treatment in order to regain custody of their children. In cases where child protective services are called to remove children from a parent with an addiction, that person may have to prove they are sober for a set period of time in order to regain custody.
Some states require convicted sex offenders to undergo mandatory sex offender treatment programs.
Is Court-Ordered Therapy Required?
The simple answer is yes.
If a judge tells you to do something, it is in your best interest to comply. However, a therapist cannot physically compel you to stay in a therapy session. You always have the ability to consult a lawyer or acquire legal advice if you feel court-ordered therapy is unnecessary.
What Happens If You Do Not Attend Therapy?
If a judge orders you to willingly attend therapy, it is up to you to go. An officer of the court will not pick you up in a cop car and force you to attend therapy sessions.
However, if you opt not to attend your therapy sessions, the judge can do the following:
- Find you in contempt of court.
- Send you to prison, if the requirement for staying out of prison was attending court-ordered therapy.
- Send you to an inpatient hospital if he or she finds you mentally unstable.
For family matters, attending court-ordered therapy can mean the difference between gaining or losing access to your children.
If you are ordered to attend therapy sessions and find yourself in a position where you are not able to afford therapy, it is up to you to communicate with the court and request assistance.
At Fifth Street Counseling Center, our therapists are capable of working with both you and the court to assist you with your mental wellbeing. Do not hesitate to give us a call at 954-543-5201 to find out more about how we comply with court-ordered therapy sessions.