An example of a written Counselling Contract

Please note that counsellors are professionally and ethically bound not to continue with therapy if it appears not to be beneficial to the client and reserve the right to decline clients if the counsellor feels that a client's needs may be best met elsewhere.

The contract
The counselling contract outlines the confidentiality and boundaries that a counsellor offers. Confidentiality is absolute and whatever you disclose in a counselling session is never revealed outside the session in connection with the client’s name, neither is the identity of the client ever revealed to anyone. This has certain legal exceptions ie if you threaten to seriously hurt or kill others (if the counsellor feels you really mean it) or if you tell the counsellor that you have seriously hurt someone, sexually abused a child or killed someone already. Also, if you state that you intend to kill yourself and the counsellor believes that you mean to do so, then the counsellor will need to inform a doctor or emergency services that you are in danger. The counsellor must inform the appropriate authorities in all these exceptions to complete confidentiality and will tell you that he/she is obliged to do so. This is to protect the counsellor, yourself and others and is a legal requirement. The contract also specifies that after the session, confidential notes may be made by the counsellor about the content and process of the counselling sessions but that you will not be identified in any way. The notes are to help the counsellor follow the counselling process and identify patterns etc. Also, the counsellor will explain that he/she has supervision, either with one supervisor or within a confidential peer group setting. Supervision is something that every practising counsellor must have to maintain client and counsellor safety during counselling. The supervisor will not be told anything which identifies the client - it is the counselling issues that are discussed - perhaps there are problems with client/counsellor transference or the counsellor is having difficulty dealing with certain issues because they impinge upon his/her own experiences.




Please note that not every counsellor or psychotherapist will ask you to sign a contract, plus you may just be asked to agree to a verbal contract. It is an agreement between you and teh therapist and is a protection for both.