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Client Rights: Your Rights When Receiving Treatment

You have certain rights when you receive services for mental health, substance use, or a developmental disability.

Learn your rights

Legal rights when receiving services

Anyone in Wisconsin who receives treatment in a community-based setting, such as a group foster home or treatment session, is protected by these rights. Here are the laws and codes outlining your rights:

These include:

  • Communication rights, including the right to:
    • Meet with visitors.
    • Receive and send sealed mail.
    • Make and receive private phone calls.
  • Financial rights, including the right to:
    • Be informed of treatment charges.
    • Be paid for work.
    • Manage personal finances.
  • Personal rights, including the right to:
    • Receive treatment in a humane environment.
    • Be treated with respect and dignity.
    • Exercise personal choice when it comes to religious worship.
  • Privacy rights, including the right to:
    • Confidentiality.
    • Access to records.
  • Treatment rights, including the right to:
    • Prompt and adequate treatment.
    • Not be secluded or restrained without cause.
    • Give informed consent for treatment and medicines.

Despite this, there are certain rights that may be limited or denied. This is due to treatment, management, or security reasons. These include the right to make and receive phone calls, and the right to see visitors.


For outpatient treatment, you will receive the Client Rights and the Grievance Procedure for Community Services, P-23112, pamphlet. This lists your rights before treatment begins.


For inpatient treatment, you will receive the Client Rights and the Grievance Procedure, P-20195A, pamphlet. This explains your rights when you are admitted. In addition, each living area displays a poster with these rights.

These rights include the right to keep treatment confidential.

Filing a complaint

If you feel one of your rights has been violated, you—or anyone on your behalf—can file a complaint. You must file the complaint within 45 days

Learn more about how to file a complaint

This Community Grievance Decision Digest list past state decisions on complaints. It includes laws and rules for each right. It also describes the facts and the outcome of the decision. The goal is to give guidance for future decisions. People receiving services can use a past decision when filing a complaint. 

View the Community Grievance Decision Digest


If you are the guardian of a person receiving services and have a question about their rights, you have options. Email the Client Rights Office.

Learn about guardianship in relation to receiving services

Informed consent

Some situations require consent by the person receiving services, parent, or guardian. These include giving medicine that wasn’t ordered by a court.

Learn more about informed consent


Last revised July 2, 2022