Categories
Counselling Ethics FAQ

Will my Counselling be Confidential?

I abide by and adhere to the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapy’s Ethical Framework.

As part of that framework, I practice confidentiality with all of my clinical work.  This means that you can speak with me knowing that your friends, your family, your work colleagues and so on will not get to learn what you have said in a counselling session – and neither will my friends, family, work colleagues and so on.

But … what confidentiality also means is that I will discuss your case with a strictly limited number of other professionals for sound ethical reasons.  All clients and patients of therapists should be made aware of this (as you will be during our initial meeting), but unfortunately this is not the case with some other professional therapists.  I make it a particular point to discuss what confidentiality means – and what are its boundaries – with all of my clients at the start of counselling.  During our initial meeting I will also give you a printed copy of our counselling agreement.  After all, there’s a lot to remember during our first sessions.

Because confidentiality is not just about not talking about our therapy work, our written agreement explains what confidentiality means.

For example, in addition to the ‘not discussing what we say in the room’ part of confidentiality, I will have made you aware that:

  • I meet with my choice of clinical supervisor one a month to discuss my cases and my work.
  • During my yearly quota of continued professional development (eg training courses), I may refer to certain casework in order to review of reflect upon the case  (you details will be anonymised, meaning I won’t use your name nor other identifying information).
  • UK law may require of me to break our confidentiality if I learn of something that is unlawful.

The rest of this article expands upon these matters.

Confidentiality & Supervision.

As a private practising therapist who is a member of – and accredited by – the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy, I meet with a qualified supervising counsellor once a month for a minimum of 90 minutes. This is to discuss my practice and my case load and to check that I’m working to my best, keeping with ethical principals, and dealing with dilemmas that come up in most every case.

I will, from time to time discuss your case and our work together with my supervisor – but I will have first made sure that my supervisor does not know you, or is likely to come in contact with you (say, for example, though the workplace).  I will refer to you only by your first name (or another name if you prefer).  If I cannot assure your confidentiality in this manner – for example if my supervisor knows you in the work place or socially – then I will seek supervision from another supervisor for the duration of our work together.

Confidentiality & Continued Professional Development (CPD).

In seeking additional knowledge to keep me up to date with therapeutic thinking, it is sometimes useful to refer to an aspect of a case whilst attending a training course.  If, when we discuss our agreement, you request that I do not refer to you during my CPD then I will respect this.  Even so, it’s rare to-the-point-of-never-happens nowadays for me to bring up casework willy nilly, and I make sure that anything I discuss within the confines of other therapists in the context of CPD still keeps your identity anonymous and our casework vague enough to never identify you.

Confidentiality & UK Law.

Confidentiality sometimes has to be broken if I am required to do so by law (for example if you disclose to me your intent of harming yourself or others (including children) or if you disclose intent of committing a serious criminal offence or terrorism).  This may also apply if I learn of someone else who may be being harmed or in danger, or is planning to harm others.

This does not mean that I will go running to the police the moment that I hear about something illegal, but it is part of my ethical commitments to you to inform you that the law may not protect your confidentiality.

I will intend to discuss with you of my (admittedly very rare) intent to break confidentiality of our work before I do so, but you need to be aware that the law may require that I take action first and without your consent or knowledge.

Declining your request to break confidentiality.

I have been discussing where confidentiality is maintained but expanded in the form of supervision and CPD, and have discussed UK Law where I may not be able to keep knowledge confidential.

There is another aspect: your request to reveal information about our counselling work.

Confidentiality is very important – even to ensure it is not broken in situations where you request it (for example, giving your permission to a solicitor to request that I give a report about our case work).

If we are still working together it is best for us to have a sufficiently detailed discussion of the consequences of such events before I decide how I will respond – and I will not automatically respond with a ‘yes’.  What has been, up until this moment, vital to protect needs a serious conversation about why this need has now changed.

Should our counselling work have been completed, and we are no longer in contact, if I receive a request to reveal the contents of our counselling work with a third party… even having received your permission (eg written) to do so … I may decline [if I am unable to discuss the request and its consequences with you directly].

Confidentiality – In conclusion.

Counselling is not to be taken lightly – neither by therapist nor clients.  Clinical work such as counselling and psychotherapy requires ethics, respect and the highest form of protecting both the therapist and the client’s right to feel safe during the work.

I take a particularly thoughtful approach to protecting confidentiality – and this may surprise a number of clients who may assume that (a) nothing is ever revealed about the case to anyone … or conversely (b) I will summarise our casework to anyone when the client wants me to.

Confidentiality is vital.

Categories
Articles

How to Find & Vet a Counsellor

How to Check if a Counsellor is Legitimate.

Counselling, Therapy & British Law.

A current problem (2011 when I wrote this article, and still current in 2014) in British Law is that counselling, psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, spiritual/religious counselling, alternative therapies (and so on) are not regulated by law. 

Anyone can set themselves up as a “therapist” or use the word “counsellor” without (legally) requiring any formal therapeutic qualifications to prove their ability to practice as a counsellor.

This situation leads to counsellors not being required have to have any insurance.  They don’t have to be answerable to a professional body to oversee their practice.  These therapists can advertise themselves as a “counsellor” without actually having any training, qualifications, nor any actual experience as a professional intended to help you therapeutically.

Some organisations use ‘counsellor’ in forms such as “Travel Counsellor” or a “Debt Counsellor” – and by the true definition of the word counsellor they’re not intending to mislead the public into thinking they’re offering a therapeutic approach to your mental well-being.

Unfortunately, by the lack of British law, that the responsibility lays on the client who is seeking counselling/therapy to find someone who is appropriate for their treatment.

Going through a GP may not be enough (limited to offering only NHS IAPT treatment … often with a waiting list) to gain access to suitable counsellor. 

All of this can leave a person at risk when trying to find a counsellor who is not an unqualified fake.

Help in Finding a “safe” counsellor.

There is good news, though.

Finding a qualified, experienced, professionally accredited and insured counsellor can be straightforward if you know some helpful things to look out for. This article describes how to find a suitable counsellor – and offers some topics to check out with your potential therapist.

At your first meeting with your counsellor, most – if not all – counsellors should not be phased by you asking about any of these topics (in later sessions, however, certain therapists may not answer questions about themselves, but be interested with you in the purpose of your question – keeping the focus upon you.  This is a legitimate approach to some forms of counsellor (i.e. psychodynamic / psychoanalytical) but I mention it here for your knowledge).

Search Counsellors’ Professional Bodies’ Online Directory.

An easy way to find a suitable therapist is to use a professional counsellors’ body that offers a “find a counsellor” type of service. The counsellors listed may have had to pay for an entry, but would also have had their qualifications checked before being allowed to pay for an entry in the list.

… however, if you wish to find your own counsellor – or you would like some advice on what to check out about your potential counsellor – then click the next page for…

“The iCounsellor’s Guide to Finding a Counsellor“.

Categories
Ethics

My Counselling Ethical Framework

BACP Ethical Framework.

Dean Richardson is a BACP Accredited Counsellor / Psychotherapist (explanation of qualifications).  I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). The accreditation means that the BACP have authenticated my substantial level of training and experience to be working as a counsellor / psychotherapist. Appropriately, my counselling work adheres to the BACP’s Ethical Framework (click to read BACP’s statement on Ethics for Counselling and Psychotherapy).

The BACP can suspend, deregister or remove accreditation from member counsellors/psychotherapists who fail to perform their work to the highest professional standards and/or who contravene the BACP’s Ethical Framework.

If you have a complaint or dissatisfaction about the therapeutic service I am providing for you, it may be helpful for you to you raise your concerns initially with me.  We will try and address the matters together.  If we cannot resolve the matter together then the BACP can provide help and assistance to you if you wish to take the complaint further (read more…).

BACP Address.

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy,
BACP House,
15 St John’s Business Park,
Lutterworth,
LE17 4HB.

Tel: 01455 883300,
Fax: 01455 550243,
Minicom: 01455 550307,
Text: 01455 560606

http://www.bacp.co.uk/

Categories
FAQ

Do I ask my Doctor/GP to refer me for Private Counselling?

No – you are not required to ask your doctor/GP to refer you to Dean Richardson for private counselling.

As a BACP Accredited counsellor/psychotherapist with his own private practice in Portsmouth (Hampshire) and via video conference through Skype, Dean is fully qualified and experienced to work with individuals, couples and groups.

Dean offers individual the following services:-

… all are in his private practice in Portsmouth & Southsea and online through the Internet via Skype video conference.

You can make your own appointment for counselling to discuss your options for counselling with Dean Richardson – you do not need to seek a referral by your GP (general practitioner / doctor) and your doctor is not automatically informed of any decision you make to enter counselling.

Dean is qualified to make his own judgements & recommendations to you on suitability for counselling through a process called the “counselling assessment”.  This assessment session is a 50 minute appointment for individuals (or individuals wishing to join a therapy group), and 4×50 minute sessions for couples. What you need from counselling will be discussed to help you identify the focus for counselling work before any counselling begins (although many find the assessment process therapeutic too).

If counselling may not be a suitable therapy for you (or your partner when considering couple relationship counselling) other options can be discussed including referrals to therapies and therapists who may be more appropriate for your needs.

Categories
FAQ

Can I ask my Doctor/GP for Counselling?

Counselling can be made available to you on the NHS via your GP.

There is often “stepped” process involved – including a waiting list to begin treatment depending on your presenting issues.

An illustrative example would be:

  • Initially, your doctor may first ask you to come back again in a few weeks time to see if things are better.
  • If things don’t feel better then next you may next be given access to reading material – a form of self-guided self-help therapy.
  • If this doesn’t help you may be offered access to a computerised [tooltip text='Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is a form of talking therapy that is focussed on helping a person change the ways they think, how they feel, and their behaviour, in a stepped process. CBT has a reputation for being a manualised treatment (patient is diagnosed and a matching treatment prescribed) which is how computer-based CBT treatments have been created.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_behavioral_therapy'] CBT [/tooltip] treatment.  This may help you identify and deal with your problems through suggestions the computer may offer based upon your responses to questions.
  • If these “self-guided” therapies remain ineffective, a referral to a low-level  (trained & qualified) therapist may be the next step – involving a waiting list of several weeks or months.
  • If the low-level impact fails to help you, you may be referred to another therapist for further treatment.

Low-level impact treatments are cost effective to the NHS because of their being no need to train highly skilled therapists.

The initially-mild interventions offered to you should be overseen by a therapist who should have an initial qualification, adequate experience & appropriately supervised (i.e. newer (lower-cost) therapists are more commonly used early low-impact intervention stages of a patient’s NHS counselling).

You may later be offered a fixed number of sessions of face-to-face counselling if the previous therapeutic intervention didn’t work for you. You may be offered to meet with a more experienced psychotherapist or psychiatrist if the previous experiences of therapy are ineffective.

Why CBT/Stepped Process?

This NHS stepped process is partially due to costs and partially due to new procedures introduced called IAPT (read more).

CBT is a treatment that GP’s can understand – it principally works on a diagnoses/prescription modality, where several treatments can be normalised (i.e. the CBT therapist follows someone’s recommendations/instructions for treating a particular ailment).  Of course, one would not take a prescription from an unqualified GP, so one would not be prescribed a form of therapeutic treatment from an unqualified CBT therapist – but there are various levels of experience & qualifications.

IAPT originally only offered CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy).  Mild forms of CBT can be offered by minimally trained therapists using a form of manualised therapy (e.g. you may be diagnosed and a therapist may refer to a set of therapeutic interventions that are recommended for your form of diagnosis).

Whilst CBT can be effective for certain issues it is not a fix-everything therapy and not everyone likes to feel like they are responding to a manual-of-therapy.  If you can be helped by the processes then this will be beneficial – albeit that to get to the higher forms of treatment the previous experiences of treatment may have to have failed first.

Private Counselling – Your Choice of Treatment.

Unlike NHS Stepped-Treatment, private counselling with Dean Richardson begins with the FULL service.

There is no tiered/stepped process with Dean. You start immediately with full 50-minute weekly sessions working with Dean face to face.  No computers giving you questionnaires.  No books to read.

You and Dean will begin with an assessment session (meeting to talk about what you need from counselling, and discussing what counselling may and may not be able to help with).

You and Dean will meet weekly (usually the same day, same time, same location – which helps many people manage their commitments elsewhere).

With Dean’s assistance you might decide to discuss choose how many counselling sessions you wish to attend (such as brief/focal counselling) or you may with to work with Dean until the focus of the needs for counselling have been fully addressed.

No waiting lists – no maximum number of sessions.

It’s a very personal counselling service that aims to create a therapy that works for you and your needs.

Categories
FAQ

How do I Find & Verify a Therapist?

Searching for a Therapist.

It’s an unfortunate truth with UK law that, presently, anyone can set themselves up and describe themselves as a “therapist” or a “counsellor”. They are not legally required to have to have any formal training, any qualifications, any experience, any insurance, nor do they need to be a member of a professional body that oversees & regulates their therapy practice.

People like these exist – some look quite legitimate – and they can make finding a properly-suitable therapist quite dangerous for the layman.

However, when you know what to look out for, professionally qualified therapists can be easily recognised.

Even if you are still unsure that a therapist/counsellor you’ve found is legitimate or not, the following questions put to the therapist will help you decide.  Do not be afraid to ask your potential therapist to proove their legitimacy!

Vetting Questions to ask a Potential Therapist.

Any of these questions would be appropriate to put to a therapist (private, NHS, charitable, spiritual, religious etc) during the first interview.

  • What are your formal qualifications to practice as a therapist – or are you still in training?
  • Who awarded you your qualification? (Check that the awarding body is also a suitable member of a recognised professional body) -or- who is overseeing your practice whilst in training?
  • If you have no formal qualifications, and are not in training, what is your rationale for offering me therapy?
  • What professional bodies are you a member of … and what is your membership number?
  • If you are not a member of a professional body, what are the circumstances around this?  Was it your decision not to be a member?
  • Does your professional have different levels of membership (e.g. member, accredited member, senior accredited member) – and, if so, what level of membership have you attained?  Are you aware of the next level, and are you working towards it?  If you are not working to the next level, what is your rationale?
  • How do you regularly ensure that are practising to your best (e.g. do you attend regular supervision, or are a member of a group supervision group)?
  • When was your last training course or self-directed learning (continued professional development/CPD)? (Check that the therapist stays up to date with current learning).
  • Do you have indemnity insurance – and who is it with? How does your insurance protect me as a potential client of yours?
  • (If appropriate…) … having learned of my/our needs for therapy, what will be your treatment plan for me/us?
  • Is your treatment suitable for my needs?
  • Have you offered this treatment before?

Trust your Instincts with the Answers.

How do you feel with the therapist’s responses to your questions?  Were the answers given freely?  Some therapists – later on in the therapy – will not immediately answer questions, preferring to investigate the nature of the question first (psychodynamic/psychoanalytic is a legitimate model of therapy, albeit different from other models), so it might be best to bare the therapist’s response with this in mind.

How does the therapist appear to you?  Does the therapist’s website and marketing material give the appearance of professionalism?  For example, does the website look healthily maintained, or is it a bit out-of-date/bedraggled?  Do the marketing materials look professionally produced, or kind of written on craps of paper in crayon?

Services such as VistaPrint can give a professional appearance to anyone in return for some money – but these services also produce rubber-stamp images (i.e. the choices of branding can be used by anyone, over and over again).  Looking professional is a good indicator of the professionalism of the therapist, but on its own it’s not an indication of the therapist’s qualifications, practice or experience.

In addition with the above questions information, if you meet with the therapist consider the following:-

  • Do you have a feeling that the therapist is someone you want to work with?  If not, don’t … and find someone else.
  • Does the therapist at least attempt to answer the questions helpfully, or evasively?
  • Do you know of anyone who has previously seen this therapist for treatment?

Bear in mind that there is no legal requirement for any of the above considerations to be set in place, so you are responsible to protecting your own well-being.

[button type=”small” color=”orange” permalink=”3989″ br=”yes”] Click for a more detailed article on this subject…[/button]

Categories
FAQ

I want to Complain about my Counsellor

Sometimes, the relationship between the counsellor and client can encounter difficulties.

From a [tooltip text='Psychodynamics is the theory and systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, especially the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychodynamics'] psychodynamic [/tooltip] point of view, the relationship between therapist and client can grow to mirror the difficulties experienced in the client’s life.  It is therefore not unexpected that seemingly-unmanageable situations in the clients personal life may be repeated with the therapist (albeit unintentionally & unconsciously).

Repeating Past Experiences.

The difference in these therapeutic circumstances will be that the therapist will try to help the client work through the problems (assisting the client in taking the opportunity to work with the problems in a different way) whilst at the same time trying to be aware of his own potential to unintentionally repeat behaviour that the client has experienced in his/her past.  It’s a very real process – it can be successfully worked through but for some clients it can be too disturbing if it occurs.

It is my approach to talk openly about difficulties as part of the therapy for these very reasons.

When Therapeutic Problems cannot be Worked-Through.

Despite the best of intentions, sometimes very difficult problems cannot be worked through between client and therapist. Whether the client cannot hold onto a spark of imagination that allows him/her to trust that this distressing manifestation is part of the transference, or the therapist hasn’t been self-aware sufficiently to work with their [tooltip text='Counter transference: the therapist`s emotional entanglement with the client; the therapist`s unconscious response to unconsciously communicated client material.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countertransference'] counter-transference [/tooltip] response to the client’s [tooltip text='Transference is a phenomenon in psychoanalysis characterized by unconscious redirection of feelings from one person to another.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transference'] transference [/tooltip] – and the client feels hurt, betrayed, let down etc.

Therapist Abuse.

The client cannot be blamed for being unable to disassociate from very real feelings of betrayal (etc). That is one matter.

Another quite different matter is when the therapist has not behaved ethically – whether by intentionally abusing the client (financially, sexually etc) or not being skilled enough or not using supervision enough to keep the therapeutic work safe.

Complaining to a Professional Body.

If , during therapy, you and Dean cannot resolve manifesting difficulties, and you wish to raise a professional complaint about Dean, you have the option of taking your complaint to his professional body: the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP). 

  • This will make your complaint about me formal and the BACP have professional procedures in place to handle such formal complaints.
  • It may also be helpful to review BACP’s Making a Complaint page which gives information on what to do before raising a complaint.

Contacting the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy.

British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy,
BACP House,
15 St John’s Business Park,
Lutterworth,
LE17 4HB.

Tel: 01455 883300,
Fax: 01455 550243,
Minicom: 01455 550307,
Text: 01455 560606

http://www.bacp.co.uk/

Categories
Sexuality

Do Counsellors ‘Cure’ Homosexuality?

An interesting article in Therapy Today (the magazine for counselling & psychotherapy professionals, published by the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy) – October 2009, Volume 20, Issue 8.

If you are troubled by your sexuality and you think that counselling might help you, make an appointment with Dean Richardson – a Specialist LGBT Therapist – to discuss counselling and what you might need from therapy.

The Gay Cure?

by
John Daniel

http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/1168/

Excerpt:

The counselling and psychotherapy profession was subject to unflattering media scrutiny earlier this year [2009] following the publication of research which found that a significant minority of mental health professionals in Britain are attempting to help lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) clients become heterosexual.

Under the headline ‘British therapists still offer treatments to “cure” homosexuality’, the Guardian reported that a survey (of 1,328 counsellors, psychotherapists, psychoanalysts and psychiatrists throughout the country) found that 222 practitioners had attempted to change at least one patient/client’s sexual orientation, while 55 said they were still offering the therapy. The fact that some of those practitioners are members of BACP prompted the following response from Phillip Hodson, BACP Fellow and Media Consultant, in the letters page of the Guardian the next day: ‘[BACP] is dedicated to social diversity, equality and inclusivity of treatment without sexual discrimination or judgmentalism of any kind, and it would be absurd to attempt to alter such fundamental aspects of personal identity as sexual orientation by counselling.’

And yet this is what a significant minority of counsellors working in Britain today are still attempting to do. ‘I think it’s probably the tip of the iceberg,’ says Michael King, Professor of Primary Care Psychiatry at University College London Medical School, and one of the three scientists responsible for the aforementioned research published in the BMC Psychiatry journal. ‘It was only a small minority, about four per cent, who said that they would treat someone who came and asked for help, but another 10 per cent said they would refer on to someone who would, so it looked like about 14 per cent thought it was an appropriate thing to do.’

Click http://www.therapytoday.net/article/show/1168/ to read the article in full.