Why is Contracting Important?
As an accredited member of the BACP, and working under their ethical guidelines for good practice, providing clients with a counselling therapy contract, sets out the agreement of working together to avoid harm to either party.
Thank you for considering working with me. This contract is not just a legal document, but sets out what you can expect from therapy, and from me as your therapist. In turn, it also sets forth what I expect from you as a client. Please read it carefully as confusions are best resolved at the beginning of the process.
Counselling Therapy Contract
- In general, most of my clients leave having had a good experience in therapy. Therapy is not necessarily an easy process, and many clients report that things can get worse before they get better. This is normal and not necessarily a sign that therapy is not working. However, if you feel that therapy is not meeting your needs, I expect you to raise this with me as soon as possible.
- As part of ongoing therapeutic work, you can expect that I will regularly undertake a review of progress. This is a normal part of the work of a therapist, and is an opportunity to discuss how we are working and, if necessary, change the focus or approach.
- Different people have different expectations of therapy. I will give you opportunities to discuss your expectations, but sometimes there can still be a mismatch based on assumptions that have not been made explicit. If your expectations are not being met for any reason, you agree to let me know.
- Therapy sessions can sometimes be very painful for clients, and you need to know that therapy isn’t about feeling better by the end of the session.
- As a therapist I aspire to offer you the best service at all times. However I am human and from time to time I make mistakes. If I should make a mistake when working with you, you can expect that I will hear your concern, make an apology if appropriate, and then work together to resolve the problem.
- Sessions are usually once a week in the first instance.
- It is important to understand that therapy is not a process whereby I, as the therapist, ‘do’ something to you, the client, to effect change. I can offer you my skills and knowledge to help you make the changes you want in your life, but the responsibility for making those changes remain with you.
- You understand that any suggestions made in therapy are offered ‘as is’ and that you are free to accept or reject those suggestions.
- I often encourage clients to undertake tasks during the week to consolidate or enhance learning. Although you are, of course, free to interpret these suggestions any way you wish, it is my experience, backed up by research, that the clients who make the best progress are ones who constructively engage in such ‘homework’ tasks.
- I may work with you in a number of different ways and bring many insights to bear from several different therapeutic traditions. If you do not find an approach useful it is your responsibility to let me know.
- The research shows that it is the relationship between therapist and client, rather than techniques per se, that bring about useful change. For this reason you can expect me to monitor our relationship and ask questions about it, including how you experience me as a therapist.
- If you attend a session under the influence of drugs or alcohol I will ask you to leave the session and you will still be responsible for paying for the session.
- Normally we work together to an agreed ending in therapy. However this contract can be terminated at any time by any party to it. If I should terminate therapy I will give you reasons for my decision. I do not normally terminate therapy with clients unless they act unreasonably toward me.
- If you miss a session and I do not hear from you for one week I will assume you wish to terminate therapy and will give your place to another client.
- Should you cancel on the day of the appointment on two or more occasions I reserve the right to terminate therapy and give the appointment to another client.
- If a pattern of scheduled cancellations emerges I reserve the right to terminate therapy and ask for payment for the scheduled cancellations.
- I offer an initial 30 minute consultation free of charge, this is to meet and decide if my way of working is suitable for your needs, and for you to decide if you want to work with me.
- I charge a £40 fee for 50 minute therapy sessions.
- Should I need to write a letter on your behalf, I charge my standard hourly rate pro rata for the time it takes to research and write the letter (e.g. if it takes me one hour I would charge £40.00 and collect this at our next meeting).
- If you need to cancel a session I will try and provide an alternative time. If we are not able to find a mutually convenient time I will charge a cancellation fee. If you give me more than 24 hours’ notice I will charge 50%, if less than 24 hours the full fee is due. This applies to illnesses, breaks and holidays.
- Sessions not attended are charged for in full.
- I accept payment by cash on the day of the appointment; please ensure you bring the exact amount, as change is often unavailable.
- I will accept payment by bank transfer in special circumstances, by arrangement only.
- I reserve the right to charge a reduced rate for clients in financial difficulty.
- If you are granted a concessionary rate due to financial circumstances and during the course of therapy your financial circumstances change, I reserve the right to review the rate you pay.
- You are responsible for paying the fee at the appropriate time. If a pattern of late payments occurs, I reserve the right to terminate therapy.
- Should a third party agree to pay the fee and then fail to do so, you agree that you will accept responsibility for the fee. You would then be at liberty to pursue the third party for the return of the fee.
- Fees will be reviewed annually on the 1st Should there be an increase in the fee I undertake to give you 28 days verbal notice. Any prepaid fees will not incur an additional charge.
- Consultations are strictly by appointment only.
- We agree to work for an initial six sessions together, it is important in good therapy to establish and maintain regular contact.
- Arriving early for an appointment can disturb my preparation for you. I therefore ask that you do not arrive early for an appointment. If you do arrive early I reserve the right to ask you to return at the correct time.
- You understand that I do not have access to a waiting area.
- If you arrive late the session will still end at the scheduled time.
- If you arrive for your session under the influence of drugs or alcohol then the session will be terminated. You will be charged for the session.
About Contacting Me
- I do not offer an emergency service. If you need to talk to me to book or rearrange an appointment I cannot guarantee to speak to you outside of our contracted appointment times. In the event that I am unable to speak with you, please leave an E-mail or text and I will try to confirm receipt of the same.
- My normal availability is from 7AM to 9PM Monday to Thursday, and all text’s and email’s should be limited to these times. Should you need to cancel or rearrange an appointment outside of these times, you can send me an email, leave a message on my voicemail or text me.
- I will do my best to respond to you promptly. In turn, I expect the same from you.
About My Code of Ethics
In entering therapy you understand that I work to the Code of Ethics of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) a copy of which can be downloaded at www.bacp.co.uk.
- If at any point you feel I am working unethically or unprofessionally, the first thing to do is to raise the issue with me yourself. If you feel I have not resolved your concern satisfactorily, you can avail yourself of the complaints process with the BACP.
- In accordance with BACP guidelines, I receive supervision for the work I undertake with clients, and in signing this contract you agree that I can discuss your case with my supervisor. This is a normal part of therapeutic practice that all therapists undertake, and is primarily there to ensure I offer a high standard of care for you, the client. Readily identifying biographical details will not be mentioned in supervision to protect your confidentiality.
- Should there emerge a boundary issue (e.g. that my supervisor knows you) I will make you aware of this, and if necessary seek supervision from a different supervisor.
Limits to Confidentiality
- In principle, what passes between us is confidential in accordance with the BACP Code of Ethics, and you can expect that ordinarily your personal information will not be disclosed to a third party for any reason.
- Should I want to use your case information to supplement training course requirements, I will ask your permission, and ask you to sign a further consent form which will specify the terms by which that information will be used. You are free to refuse a request and this will not affect the service that you receive.
- Under law there are some limitations to confidentiality. In particular our conversations are not ‘privileged’ as they are with a lawyer, priest or doctor. Under extreme circumstances e.g. if asked by a Court of Law, I may have to divulge details of our relationship.
- As a therapist I am also placed under a legal duty to inform the relevant authorities if I believe you are a danger to yourself or other people. This is particularly acute in child protection issues, and acts of terrorism. In working with me you understand, and agree, that I can breach confidentiality under these circumstances.
- You can also expect that if I have concerns about confidentiality then I will bring these to your attention in a timely fashion.
- I take approximately seven weeks leave from my work as a therapist for holiday and professional development, and I undertake to give you fair notice of when these periods arise.
About the Notes I Take
- You understand that I write notes per 50 minute session for my sole benefit, and that I retain these notes after you terminate therapy.
- Your notes are written and stored in a BACP approved client management system. Your name and telephone number are stored electronically separate to your notes on a standard mobile phone.
- The notes remain at all times my property; however you are welcome to view them at any reasonable time subject to my usual consultation fee.
- Should you or a third party acting on your behalf, and with your written consent, require a copy of these notes, I will charge an administration fee of £30 be paid before they are released. The cost is to cover my time, and covering letters and postage.
About My Professional Boundaries
- As my client, I hope to treat you professionally and with respect at all times. In return I expect to be treated respectfully at all times. Abusive, violent or manipulative behaviour is not acceptable at any time and will result in immediate termination of therapy.
- As your therapist, it is important that we maintain a professional boundary. I will not solicit or accept invitations for friendship or sex and I will not solicit or accept gifts or ‘tips’.
- I ask that you respect my privacy at all times, by being clear about the time and day of your appointment, and by not making unsolicited visits.
Thank you for taking the trouble to read through this counselling therapy contract, I hope it gives you a clear understanding of what to expect from therapy. If you have any questions or concerns, please raise these with me. Please take a further moment to sign the corner of each page and complete the following contact details form.