As a professional counsellor, ethical responsibilities are of utmost importance in ensuring the well-being and trust of our clients. An important aspect at the beginning of therapeutic work is a written psychotherapy contract.
A written counselling contract ensures transparency and that clients are aware of the way we work. This article will explain how I drew up my psychotherapy contract and the reasoning for each section.
Collaborative and Transparency
The introductory section of my counselling and psychotherapy contract sets the stage for a collaborative and transparent working relationship with clients. By clearly outlining our mutual expectations and requesting clients to confirm their agreement in writing, I establish a foundation of trust and accountability. During the initial session, I encourage clients to seek clarifications, propose amendments, or voice any concerns, further fostering a sense of mutual understanding and respect.
The first part of my psychotherapy contract states my professional credentials and my adherence to the BACP Ethical Framework, reinforcing the principles of trust and autonomy. Additionally, I highlight my professional insurance cover, reassuring clients of my commitment to their well-being. The contract specifies a review after six sessions, which demonstrates my dedication to monitoring and optimising the therapeutic process.
Confidentiality is paramount in counselling. By addressing confidentiality in the early stages of the contract, I emphasise my commitment to protecting clients’ privacy. The contract outlines the extent of confidentiality while also highlighting the legal limitations that may compel me to breach confidentiality. By being transparent about the circumstances under which confidentiality may be breached, I uphold accountability and reassure clients that our work is confidential.
Supervision is an integral part of maintaining professional competence and ethical practice. By mentioning that I may review our work annoumously in supervision, I reinforce my commitment to accountability and my professional development.
The business-related aspects of my practice, such as session duration, payment terms, cancellation policy, and holiday notice, are also incorporated into the contract. By clearly communicating these details, I provide clients with a transparent understanding of the practicalities and expectations of our therapeutic relationship. Additionally, I make it clear that any communication outside of the session is strictly for administrative purposes, ensuring that the therapeutic work remains confidential and protected.
In today’s digital age, social media boundaries are crucial. To address this, I have implemented a social media policy, which prohibits social interactions with clients on social media platforms. By including a link to this policy in the contract, I establish a clear boundary that preserves the professional nature of our relationship.
Maintaining accurate and secure client notes is a critical aspect of responsible counselling practice. I inform clients about the importance of notes in ensuring the quality and continuity of their care. Furthermore, I discuss how and where the notes will be stored, in compliance with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) guidelines. Clients are also made aware of their right to request a copy of their notes, fostering transparency, and reinforcing their autonomy.
Provision of BACP ethical guidelines
Finally, on the counselling contract, I ensure clients have access to the BACP guidelines and understand the process for raising complaints. By providing them with the necessary information and avenues for resolution if they are not happy with my service, I strive to maintain the highest professional standards.