What is contracting and what to expect?

So you have had your assessment or conversation with your counsellor and you are ready to start.

The first session can sometimes go by very quickly and some of the information that is provided may seem to have got lost in the minefield of words and nerves.

Normally contracting is something that the counsellor does at the beginning of the session. It’s a verbal contract with you and the counsellor, that allows the counsellor to set out boundaries and expectations from the get go. It sounds very formal and in some sense yes it is.

Below is an example of contracting I do with all my clients on the first session, which generally just takes a few minutes.

“Today’s session is 50 minutes long and before the end of the session I will let you know we are nearly coming to an end.

“Everything you do say within these sessions are confidential, the only time I would have to break confidentiality is if you mention harm to self or others, drug trafficking, money laundering or any acts of terrorism by law I would have to break confidentiality. In the event this does happen I will inform you first and will then raise this with my supervisor because I take my duty of care towards you seriously.”

Nearly done…

” I work following the BACP Ethical Framework and Payment has to be recieved 48 hours before the session and if payment isn’t received then the sadly the session cannot take place. Any questions?”

Now majority of the time since it is your first session you may feel overwhelmed with the amount of information passed to you within a few mins. So take a moment and if something does come to you during or after the session then raise it with counsellor.

Some counsellors may send you the contract in document format so you can read it before the session and I personally like to send a contract before the session outlining these aspects as well as verbally confirming them within the session.

Within the written contract it should also include terms of agreement regarding any payment, frequency of the sessions and notice period of any cancellations.

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