Counselling Agreement

The Oaks Counselling Service seeks to provide the best service possible, however there are never any guarantees with counselling and so we are not able to guarantee a specific outcome. Methods of communication agreed mutually, can be face-to-face (eg hired room, Counsellor’s home, walk and talk) or on-line (eg Zoom, telephone, WhatsApp video call) following all applicable government and other relevant bodies guidelines, to promote safety and security.

Clients receiving counselling services from The Oaks Counselling Service enter into the following contract:

Client Autonomy

The Counsellor is responsible for working in ways that promote the Client’s control over their own lives. The Counsellor respects the Client’s ability and responsibility to make decisions and change in the light of their own beliefs and values.

Confidentiality   

Client confidentiality is taken very seriously and will only be broken if the counsellor believes that you or another person / other people are in danger of serious harm, or as required by law. Where possible this will be discussed with you beforehand.

All Counsellors undergo regular ‘professional supervision’ where they discuss their Client work in order to be able to offer their Clients the best possible service. You will not be personally identified during this process.

At your request, you may receive access to any session notes, which are anonymous, confidential and securely kept.

Our record keeping policy is available to view in full on our website.

Sessions

The appointments are 50-60 minutes long and can be weekly, fortnightly, or whatever frequency suits you and your Counsellor.

In order to assist the counselling process, you are asked to:

  • Work with your Counsellor during the first session to reach agreement on what the issues are, and what goals you wish to achieve through counselling.
  • Discuss your problems in as specific a manner, as you can.
  • Express any doubts, difficulties or blocks experienced during counselling with the Counsellor first, before discussing with anyone else.
  • Demonstrate your commitment to the counselling by committing to the agreed sessions.
  • Carry out any work agreed between the sessions.

Special Arrangements when Sessions are Online

Find a quiet and confidential space to connect online and where you cannot be overheard.  Ensure that your computer or mobile is set up before the session begins and that the lighting is sufficient, enabling the Counsellor to clearly see your face.

Please do not record the sessions.

Payments and Cancellations 

The fee of £20 for the Initial Assessment and subsequent sessions at the fee of £40 per session is payable electronically 2 days in advance, using an Oak’s client, reference number.

If you need to change or cancel an appointment please give at least 48 hours’ notice wherever possible, for it not to be treated as a short notice cancellation, where full payment is incurred.

Non-Payment

You are asked to make every effort to remember to pay electronically in advance. If you forget, you will receive a gentle reminder from your Counsellor, however, if payments are not met your Counsellor reserves the right to cancel the upcoming sessions.  You may need to review whether counselling is right for you at the present time. If payment remains outstanding, you will be invoiced for the outstanding payments.

Missed Appointments

If you do not keep a booked appointment this will be treated as a short notice cancellation, and you will be asked to pay the balance before the next session. If this happens a second time, you may need to review with your Counsellor whether counselling is right for you at the moment. As there is ongoing high demand for counselling sessions, please remember that others are also in need of help, and if you don’t keep an appointment, others may be missing out.

The Counsellor will give you as much notice as possible of any dates when sessions will need to be missed due to illness, holidays or other circumstances.

Contact Between Sessions

If you need to contact your Counsellor please phone, text or e-mail them. This contact is limited to practical arrangements unless it has been agreed that ‘emergency sessions’ are available between scheduled sessions. If you ‘bump into’ your Counsellor outside of your appointments, you have a choice of what to do. You can choose to acknowledge or ignore them, and they will follow your lead. It is not appropriate to get into conversation, and your Counsellor will not instigate this or ask you how you are.

Review Process

Sessions are periodically discussed to review the counselling progress and feedback is always welcomed at any time. This will include the use of the CORE Assessment Form particularly at the Initial Assessment, at the penultimate or last session and possibly at other times, as appropriate.

Concerns and Complaints 

Worries or concerns do sometimes arise during counselling and misunderstandings can occur. We encourage you to talk about these with your Counsellor as they arise. They can usually be addressed and dealt with in this way. However, if you feel this would be too difficult, or you can’t resolve the issue between you, you can view our Complaints Procedure on our website, which will inform you of further steps you can take.

Ending

Normally the ending of the therapeutic relationship is by mutual agreement with your Counsellor, but you are free to end your relationship at any time. On rare occasions the Counsellor may discuss ending counselling, if they believe that you are not benefiting from the sessions or where referral to other services may be more appropriate for you.

Ethical framework

All Counsellors adhere to the ethical guidelines of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) or the Association of Christian Counsellors (ACC).