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Making appropriate referrals is part of being in professional practice.

Clients come from all walks of life and can present with many difficulties.

One of the counsellor’s ethical obligations is to work within their competence and job description.

Sometimes clients need help with other things such as medical issues, debt, claiming benefits, legal difficulties and so on. This is where a referral is useful.

No client should ever feel that they are beyond help so if a client asks a counsellor for help with debt, then a referral is made to the appropriate professional who can offer help.

Counsellors work with what is described as the ‘worried well’ individuals who have problems they want to resolve but whose mental health does not need medical intervention.

Occasionally clients may present with severe mental health issues such as being delusional or hearing voices. In cases like this, the counsellor should refer them to a qualified medical professional.

Clients who present issues with or are under the influence of drugs and alcohol, or are having ongoing issues with substance misuse, should be seen by someone who has expertise in this field.

In cases like this the counsellor should refer them to a suitably qualified professional to get the help they need.

A referral procedure provides a seamless journey from one professional helper to another so all aspects of the clients’ difficulties can be supported.

Download your Student's Guide to Ethical Referrals handout

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