The importance of counselling agreements: A discussion of sample counselling contracts

Counselling professionals deal with sensitive and confidential information as a matter of course, and due to the interpersonal, intimate nature of the job, the client-counsellor relationship can become complex. It is crucial, therefore, to have a watertight counselling contract to use as an ethical framework for use with clients that is legally sound and acceptable to PI Insurers. Unfortunately, many of the sample counselling contracts available on the web fall far short of this.

If you’re looking for guidance on what should be included in such an agreement check out our sample counselling contract (an extract from our full standard form counselling agreement) for a full table of contents and to get a better idea of the level of clarity and design that is to be expected.

a sample counselling agreement provides clarity and satisfies legal obligations

A professionally designed, comprehensive document which introduces the client to the rules, boundaries and mechanisms of the therapeutic process is a great tool to help build the therapeutic alliance from the start. Identifying the need for improved consistent and ethical standards we have developed a standard form of counselling agreement for use in all types of counseling and psychotherapy. We are committed to clarity, providing a means to obtain informed consent and, most importantly, trust.

An agreement of any sort is a contract, and a counselling contract is certainly no exception. As there has been no consistency of approach in the professional there are several sample counselling contracts around but none we have seen provided a consistent comprehensive basis for therapy.

Counsellors and psychotherapists are generally not legal experts, and unfortunately it is not uncommon to find flaws in counselling forms that can have legal implications in the long run. A sound counselling contract should follow the following framework:

• Be written in clear, plain English and ideally Crystal Mark approved.
• Comprehensively conform to the requirements of an ethical framework and provide a clear basis for informed consent.
• Be flexible enough to accommodate for each counsellor, physiotherapist or agency to add its own nuances.
• Clearly set down the boundaries of the therapeutic relationship.
Be legally sound.

The fact that many a sample counselling contract falls short is not necessarily the fault of the counsellor or psychotherapist. It has never been entirely ethical to expect that experts in the talking cures could also be experts in putting effective client agreements together.

We have made efforts to conform to the standard form of agreement to the newly revised BACP ethical framework. While a few counselling professionals initially expressed concern at the length of a an agreement that by necessity covers all the bases, the fact remains that the revised framework sets out the fundamental parameters of the client-counsellor relationship, which need to be addressed directly with the client at the outset of the therapeutic process.

Crucially, this framework helps foster a sense of mutual understanding between client and counsellor, assisting in the supervision process and ensuring the client-therapist relationship is professional and one of trust and confidence from the outset.

View an extract from our sample counselling contract to get a better idea of exactly what we can offer here at Calm Counselling. The briefest of comparisons with other sample counselling contracts will immediately alert the professional counselor or psychotherapist that a change is required. To purchase the template either on a subscription basis or as a hard copy, head over to our convenient online shop.

The reader should never be confused or unsure about what is going on at any given point in an!

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