Making the decision to seek counselling is a big step and one that is not taken lightly. The therapeutic alliance will be more successful when there are clearly defined boundaries set out and followed by both the client and the counsellor. For the client to get the most out of the counselling experience it is advisable to adhere to the following guidelines. If you have any questions or concerns, please raise them with the counsellor, otherwise it would be appreciated if you read and signed this contract and then bring it to the initial counselling session.
The terms of the contract are set out as follows:
Counsellor responsibilities are to:
- Provide therapeutic support in a manner that suits the client’s needs, treating the client with courtesy and respect always.
- Communicate openly and honestly, including discussions about the process of referring the client elsewhere, if necessary and including the client in all decisions about their support.
- Provide a safe and secure environment, listen to any concerns and/or feedback the client may wish to discuss, work to resolve any problems in a timely manner and provide a space for reflection.
- Protect the client’s privacy and confidential information by storing notes in a secure location and explain the process of obtaining consent and written permission from the client before sharing information with others.
- Provide the client with a professional service and ensure ethical guidelines and professional standards are maintained.
- Present and model appropriate behaviour and directives guided by the therapeutic profession, including not entering any professional or personal relationships outside of the practice with the client, or entering any private requests on Social Media sites. This is to protect the ethical boundaries to prohibit the formation of a dual relationship between the client and the counsellor, alleviating any conflict of interest.
- Give the client sufficient notice, within reason, of cancellation of appointments on the counsellor’s end, due to illness, leave or therapeutic training that is beyond the control of the counsellor.
- Inform the client that the counsellor has regular supervision as part of the professional counselling association requirements and may take the client case to supervision. This is to ensure that the most appropriate service is provided to clients. Personal details are not disclosed in supervision to protect client identity.
Confidentiality and Mandatory Reporting
As a general rule, the counsellor is bound by the ethical code of conduct of the counselling profession to keep information shared during the therapeutic sessions, confidential. The counsellor understands that permission from the client is required before sharing any information with other health professionals or family members. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that are important for you to understand before you share personal information with the counsellor in a therapeutic session. In some situations, the counsellor is required by law or by the guidelines of the counselling profession to disclose information, whether the counsellor has the client’s permission or not.
Some of these situations are as follows:
If during a counselling session, the client discloses information that clearly indicates that there is a risk of harm, including death or imminent danger to the client, or to another person, including the counsellor, then the counsellor is legally bound and has a Duty of Care, to take necessary steps to prevent danger or death from happening. This includes, though not limited to, notifying the proper authorities, and cooperating where necessary, even if this requires disclosing content of the therapeutic session that specifically relates to the alleged danger, to prevent any Risk of Harm.
If the client is involved in a court case and a court request is made for information about the client’s therapeutic sessions. In this case, the counsellor will not disclose information without the clients written consent unless the court requires the counsellor to do so. This will be discussed with the client.
Please be aware that by legal obligation and the ethical code of conduct of the counselling profession, counsellors are required to keep brief records noting the client session attendance, what interventions happen in the sessions, topics of discussion and client goals moving forward. Client records are securely stored, and the client can have access to these records upon written request. The client also has the right to request, in writing that the counsellor discuss client progress with another health provider, copy the client file or provide a written report detailing the client progress and/or make details available to any other health care provider.
Client Responsibilities are to:
- Work cooperatively with the counsellor to ensure that the service is delivered to meet the client needs and goals. Clients who gain the most from the therapeutic sessions are those who use the time to increase awareness, learn new skills and be actively involved in getting what they want from the sessions.
- Always treat the counsellor and any other persons and/or property involved in the service relationship with courtesy and respect and attend therapy sessions in a courteous fashion refraining from abusive, aggressive, or violent behaviour.
- Keep the counsellor informed of any changes and/or concerns to the client’s situation that the client feels may have an impact on the therapeutic relationship.
- Let the counsellor know if the client is left with concerns or discomfort during or after a session so it can be discussed. It can be normal to experience some exhaustion or sadness after a session and it is recommended that the client rest and take care.
- Attend scheduled therapeutic sessions on time. Understand that if the client is late to the session, the session will still end on time and not run over into the next persons’ time and full fee will be charged.
- Note that if the client misses a session without cancelling, full fee will be charged at the next appointment for the no-show.
- Note that if the client cancels an appointment with less than twenty four (24) hours’ notice, the client is required to pay full fee at the next regular scheduled appointment, unless it is due to unforeseen circumstances where the decision of payment will be at the discretion of the counsellor.
- Note that if the client does not show for two consecutive sessions and does not notify the counsellor or respond to the counsellors attempts to contact the client, then the clients regular appointment time may be allotted to another individual.
- Pay for the therapeutic sessions, via cash/EFT at the time of the appointment unless other arrangements have been made in advance with the counsellor.
- Discuss with the counsellor prior to the scheduled appointments any workers compensation claims or any other insurance claims or court orders that warrant the client to attend the therapeutic process.
- Raise with the counsellor with some notice when the client feels ready to terminate or wind down the counselling sessions. It is important to plan this together ahead of a final session so that the client has closure and is comfortable to move on without the support of the counsellor.
- Agree to contact Lifeline on 131114 for assistance outside of the contracted counselling hours or call 000, in the case of an emergency or crisis.
Client Consent to therapy: