This is a list of the kind of things we need to agree to in order to work together in an ethical and effective way. It is a two-way agreement and everything in here can be discussed.
It is important that we have an agreement to provide boundaries to the work, boundaries we’re both comfortable with, from the beginning of our work together. These boundaries keep us both safe and let us know what we expect of each other.
Counselling is about facilitating change so there can be times when we want to revisit this agreement to clarify, rework or explore it. It is the foundation of the therapeutic relationship and essential for trust in that relationship.
For the counselling process to work well, a level of commitment is required from both of us. For therapy to be effective it will require that you attend regularly, that you understand the importance of honesty in the work and you have a genuine desire for growth. On my part, I am committed to helping you by offering you a safe space, my unbiased view of things (as unbiased it can be) and the opportunity to sit in a room and say and feel anything freely and confidentially.
Everything we talk about is confidential. This includes everything that’s said inside the counselling room and outside too. It includes telephone calls, text messages and emails. I won’t confirm if we’re working together except in the situations mentioned below.
I will not reveal the contents of our communications to anyone except in very specific and necessary situations. If this ever happened I would discuss it with you first whenever possible and I would only ever do so if it was in your best interests.
There is no requirement for you to do the same, I am open with my counselling practices so what you share with others is wholly up to you.
The situations where I would break this confidentiality are
If there is a risk of serious harm to yourself. It does need to be serious harm before I would consider involving anyone else. Clients often engage in practices that are risky or harmful, this is often the point of the work. This would remain confidential except in extreme circumstances.
If there is a risk of serious harm to another, especially in the case of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. If there is a risk of serious injury or death, if there is a risk of abuse of another, then I will discuss with you how we might involve other people to help keep them safe. If we can not reach an agreement it’s possible I may need to act without your consent, as required by law.
During Supervision. All ethical counsellors have another counsellor they employ to discuss their work. The purpose of this is to check I am working ethically and effectively for my clients. This allows me to examine my own thinking and gain insight into our work together. Clients are not identified during these conversations and the other person is always a qualified counselling supervisor who is a member of a professional body.
When required by law. If I subpoenaed by a court I can be called to hand over case notes or testify in court about the things we’ve discussed. I am not compelled to report past crimes but if you are involved in terrorist activity, money laundering or dealing with drugs then I am required to report this to the police.
I keep brief written notes which you are welcome to see at any time. These notes are kept confidentially. I am the only one who has access, along with any records of your personal information. At the end of our work together, all notes and personal details will be stored for up to 5 years in case you wish to return to counselling. After this time, all records will be securely destroyed or deleted.
In the event of my death, another counsellor will retrieve my records and use them to inform my clients and then destroy the records.
Ongoing training is part of a counsellor’s role, and sometimes may involve discussion of my experiences with clients. This could be in conversation or in writing.
Any individual details would be left out to protect client confidentiality. If a piece of training was focused on our work together I will discuss this with you before proceeding. If this is something you would prefer to not be a part of please let me know.
Our sessions will be face to face, lasting 60 minutes, at a time and place we agree upon.
To allow the counselling process to be effective I recommend weekly sessions.
I have a purpose built and private space for counselling sessions in St. Austell where you can discuss whatever brings you to therapy.
Appointment sessions are for a full hour which we both agree in advance. Typically we will confirm the timing of each session the week before.
I will text you the day before the session as a reminder and to confirm the time. If you would prefer not to receive these texts please let me know.
If you are late, we will still need to finish at the agreed time. If you are more than 15 minutes late I would not be able to see you as this doesn’t allow time for a safe session.
I do understand that life gets in the way and that other circumstances can have an effect on our timekeeping so if you are running late please try to keep me informed. If I have space in my schedule we can discuss moving the session.
Please be aware that I might be in a client session before yours so if you arrive early you may not get an answer from the doorbell.
I charge £45 for a normal 60 minute counselling session.
If you would like to meet for longer sessions we can discuss an appropriate rate.
If you would like to pay in advance for a group of sessions we can discuss a rate agreeable to both of us.
I offer a discounted rate of £30 per session for people on low incomes. This is valid for the first eight sessions and my fee rises to £35 per session afterwards. I do not ask for any documents or evidence to qualify for this discount. I believe my clients are able to make this judgement for themselves and deal with me honestly.
As a one-off initial meeting I offer a shorter session of 30 minutes. I charge £25 for this time. This can be an opportunity to discuss your needs and to decide if counselling with me is right for you. I do not offer sessions less than 60 minutes except for this initial consultation as it’s not enough time to work effectively.
In special circumstances I am able to visit clients at home for our sessions. This must be agreed in advance and is subject to having a suitable environment for counselling work.
There is a travel cost of £20, on top of any session fee, for locations within 30 minutes drive of St Austell. eg. Liskeard, Newquay, Truro.
For all other locations in Cornwall, or in Plymouth, the travel fee is £30 on top of any session fees.
Payment is requested at the beginning of each session, including the first session. Payment accepted by Cash or Direct Bank Transfer (details provided on request).
Receipts / invoices can be provided for all payments, please ask if you need one.
Missed Sessions, Cancellations & Holidays
In order to operate a counselling practice I require that missed sessions are still paid for, preferably before the next time we meet. A missed session is where it is agreed and not cancelled in advance.
If either of us can not attend a session we agree to let the other know as soon as possible. I ask that that sessions cancelled with less than 48 hours notice will still be paid for.
I don’t ask that you pay for sessions cancelled more than 48 hours before a scheduled appointment.
If I am taking holiday I will give you as much notice as possible, a minimum of two weeks. I ask that you do the same for me.
If you are unable to attend sessions for more than three weeks then I will not be able to hold a place in my schedule for you and we will negotiate a time suitable for us both when you return.
If you are often unable to attend sessions I will discuss with you if this is the right time in your life for you to be attending counselling and we can decide if we want to keep working together.
I ask that we both agree to turn off our mobile phones during our sessions. They can have a major impact on the work when they interrupt.
I understand that there can times when it is necessary that you are reachable, if this happens please let me know so we can discuss other options, such as having the phone on silent or checking it at planned times.
If you choose to communicate with me via Facebook or other social media please be aware I have no responsibility for the privacy policies of these companies or how they process your data. If you have any privacy concerns around our work then I advise against using these methods to contact me.
Please do not come to your session intoxicated with any substance. I choose not to work with anyone under the influence and you will be asked to leave if I believe you are under the influence of any drug or alcohol.
This is not intended as a judgement of drink or drugs but it is important to recognise what counselling is and how it works, and how any drug can impact on that process.
It is also an issue of safety and liability, both mine and yours.
I hold professional indemnity insurance.
Ethical Standards & Complaints
I am a member of The British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. (BACP) and I am committed to their ethical framework.
The BACP’s Ethical Framework can be viewed from their website.
If you have any complaints regarding our work together you can bring them to me in the first instance, if you feel able to do so.
If you wish to escalate your complaint you can do this with the BACP where it can be investigated and treated appropriately.