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On-Set Therapist vs Mental Health Coordinator: which do you need?

When a production is looking for an “on-set therapist”, they’re not actually looking for a therapist to be treating mental conditions on-set. Mental health treatment involves an intake assessment (90 minutes), signing Informed Consent, HIPAA, Confidentiality, & Practice Policy agreement paperwork, and creation of a Treatment Plan with therapeutic goals, interventions, and a timeline for treatment, at a minimum!

We want it to be clear that there is a time and place for an on-set therapist to do good work but, largely, when a production starts looking for an “on-set therapist”, what they really want is a Mental Health Coordinator.

Why? So glad you asked. Let’s dive in deeper.

If an individual performer has already established treatment with their own therapist and requests that this clinician be brought on-set to support them for a production, that’s beautiful. Ethically and logistically speaking though, this same therapist cannot (and should not) engage in the treatment of any other individual in this workplace during this time. Not only would this be a conflict of interest, it would also be a logistical nightmare!

A Mental Health Coordinator is not in the business of actively treating mental health conditions. There is no need for an intake assessment, treatment plan, or signing of practice disclosures because there are none! At any point in the production process, an MHC is free to dive in with support and services to aid the mental health and safety of anyone involved in a creative project. 

Licensure and Liability

In the United States, a therapist must ethically and legally be treating clients who are located in the State in which they are licensed. Clinicians could face jail time, fines, and revocation of their license if they are found to be practicing across state lines, depending on outcomes and their state of licensure. A therapist’s malpractice insurance is also location specific so, if a cast or crew member sues, the clinician (and the Studio!) may be left without coverage.

A Mental Health Coordinator is not licensed but certified. They are able to support the mental health and wellbeing of cast and crew members without worry about location because they have been deemed as qualified by the Association of Mental Health Coordinators to provide this specific service internationally. Further, an MHC’s professional liability insurance covers their services provided anywhere, not being tied to a clinical private practice or therapy agency. 

Scope of Services Provided

Therapists do therapy. They’re providing treatment for diagnosed mental health conditions. This is something sacred and unique and a service that’s tough (if not impossible) to accomplish in a creative workplace like a film set. 

A Mental Health Coordinator is an interdisciplinary mental health professional supporting responsible and compelling portrayal of mental health and challenging or traumatic themes. An MHC is a collaborator and a creative professional who cooperates across multiple departments and disciplines to not only mitigate stress and mental health concerns while filming, but to also provide guidance on destigmatizing and improving the quality of storytelling around these themes. We’re also ready to provide responsible and appropriate referrals to the most appropriate supports when that’s necessary. If someone is in need of therapy, we won’t be doing that on set, but you can bet we have a list of local resources to hand out at a moment’s notice.

Productions and performers are looking for personalized guidance and individual support when mental health issues are at the forefront of creative work. They’d like support with conflict resolution and navigating mental health challenges for anyone involved to improve workplace safety and efficiency. This is progress and we are here for it! And also, this is not what an on-set therapist does.

A Mental Health Coordinator integrates care and support for all members of production at any and every point in the creative process. We are not your therapist but we definitely provide therapeutic interventions and the wisdom of responsible portrayal around this delicate material. We offer a sense of comfort and security during filming and are ready for a mental health crisis if and when that happens, but also work behind the scenes to make storytelling around these topics move smoothly and safely along. 

If what your production is looking for sounds more like a Mental Health Coordinator, we’re not surprised and we’re so grateful you’re here with us!

Click below to get in touch!

on-set therapist vs mental health coordinator film production


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