As with face to face counselling, it is important to have a telephone counselling working agreement. This sets out what is expected from the therapeutic relationship between a client and a counsellor.
Thank you for considering working with me. This telephone counselling working agreement is not just a legal document, but sets out what you can expect from telephone counselling, 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.
Telephone Counselling Working Agreement
- In general, most of my clients end therapy having had a good experience. 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 in a timely fashion.
- As part of on-going 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.
- Telephone counselling can feel like it ends abruptly at the end of the session, it is advisable to set aside at least ten minutes to process the session before moving back into your day to day life.
- Sessions are usually once a week in the first instance and last for fifty minutes.
- 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.
- 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 call in for a session under the influence of drugs or alcohol I will ask you to terminate the call but 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 or 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.
- If you miss or cancel 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 or ask for payment for the scheduled cancellations.
- I charge a £40 fee for 50 minute therapy sessions.
- Once we agree to work together I take payment in advance of our session, no session will take place unless payment has been received and cleared.
- 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).
- I accept payment by paypal.
- 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.
- 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.
- Telephone counselling sessions are strictly by appointment only.
- Please do not telephone before the scheduled call, as this can disturb my preparation for you.
- If you telephone later than our scheduled time, the session will still end at the scheduled time.
- If it becomes apparent during the call that you are 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 contact me to book or rearrange a telephone appointment this will be done via email firstname.lastname@example.org or text 0753529556, and I will endeavour to respond as soon as possible, 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. 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.
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 request you provide your GP’s contact details on the understanding of the above limits to confidentiality.
- 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. I usually take a one month sabbatical each year.
About the Notes I Take
- You understand that I write approximately one page of 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.
- As your therapist, it is important that we maintain a professional boundary.
- I ask that you respect my privacy at all times, not least by being clear about the time and day your appointment, and by not making unsolicited calls.
By commencing telephone counselling you are deemed to agree to the above terms of working together.
Thank you for taking the trouble to read through this 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 complete the following contact details form and return to me before our first session.