Contracting with Your Counsellor Explained
There are many reasons why someone might want to keep their therapy sessions private. Maybe they are embarrassed or ashamed that they are seeking help (something which would be explored in length during the sessions) or perhaps they are attending due to trauma or abuse that they have yet to disclose to friends or family. Either way, what and when you tell people is up to you. So how can you be certain that your sessions are confidential when you need them to be?
There are both laws and contracts surrounding the confidentiality and privacy of you as a client. When you first approach a counsellor, as well as outlining how your sessions will go, they should make you feel more confident in the process and their services. The thought of a contract might scare you off, but it shouldn’t. It is more for your protection than anything else.
But, if you are still confused or concerned, read on to learn more about how your confidentiality is protected and what a counselling contract is and how it works.
What is Confidentiality?
Confidentiality is important for many people who seek therapy as the reasons behind their sessions can often be private and personal. With this in mind, they want to make sure that they find the best counsellor to work with, someone that they know will have their best interests in mind, and will be compliant to the laws surrounding confidentiality and privacy. Counsellors understand the reasoning behind the need for privacy, and will always support you with their silence. You may find that it is something you may even wish to work on within your sessions, talking about ways to open up to your friends and family about your mental health issues so that they can help you on your journey to recovery.
But what exactly are confidentiality and the laws that bind counsellors to it? Licenced mental health professionals are legally required to protect client confidentiality, which includes client information, their reasoning for attending therapy and the content discussed as well as protecting the information that a client is even in therapy. It is common, but not the law that counsellors will not acknowledge their clients if they run into them outside of their sessions to help protect client confidentiality unless stated otherwise by the client.
Other counsellors may go to further extents to make sure that their clients feel protected in their care, not revealing information on voicemail or by seeking a client’s permission to do so in advance, not acknowledging to outside parties that a client has an appointment or discussing the content of their conversations to any third parties. To fully understand how your therapist will protect your confidentiality, make sure to have a conversation with them during your consultation about any fears or concerns.
What is a Contract For?
A counselling contract is an agreement between the counsellor and the client which outlines the therapeutic working alliance. The contract ensures that the counselling process will be performed professionally and safely and highlights the responsibilities of the therapist towards you as the client as well as your responsibilities to the counsellor. At its most basic level, a counselling contract is an informed consent for treatment.
Most often a counselling contract will be presented in writing to ensure clarity and provide the necessary space for legal intervention should the terms of the contract not be met. Usually, your counsellor will verbally tell you the main points of the counselling contract before the sessions begin to ensure that you are happy with the term of the work which is to be carried out. This allows you to ask any questions or ask for clarifications or changes before you read and sign the document.
Often the counselling contract isn’t a lengthy document and is usually only one or two pages in length with a list of terms that are important for creating a safe, confidential and professional service that ensures your satisfaction.
Contracts aren’t anything to be scared of, and they provide you with the chance to understand how your sessions will be carried out to ensure that you are happy with the services. If you are still confused by this, want to know more about confidentiality or want to learn more about my services as a counsellor, then contact me today.