Counselling and the Law
In this section we are going to look at the legal obligations counsellors have to abide by, as this is an introductory guide consider the information supplied below as on overview, not legal opinion which you could use as defence in court!
Counsellors are not above the law, like all citizens of the United Kingdom, not abiding by statutory laws can get you in trouble as anyone who has got caught driving a vehicle at100 mph in a 20 mph speed limit will likely tell you.
The four most common laws that counsellors might come across while working with clients are:
- Prevention of terrorism act 2005
- Money Laundering regulations 2007
- Drugs trafficking act 1996
- Protection of Children’s act 1999
The laws listed above form an exception to client confidentiality if client discloses that they are breaking these laws then the counsellor has a legal and ethical obligation to inform someone.
If a counsellor is working with an agency will have their own policies and procedures, which in addition to the laws listed above will include breaching confidentiality should the client disclose that they are in serious risk of harming, themselves or others.
Exceptions to confidentiality be it the BACP code of ethics and the agencies own policies and procedures are discussed at the time the counsellor contracts with the client.
This is why contracting is important. it allows the client to fully understand what the counsellor can offer in terms and the exceptions to confidentiality.
It allows client informed consent that they enter counselling knowing exactly what is on offer.