Contracts in Counselling and Psychotherapy


Edited by: Charlotte Sills

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  • About the Series

    The Professional Skills for Counsellors series, edited by Colin Feltham, covers the practical, technical and professional skills and knowledge which trainee and practising counsellors need to improve their competence in key areas of therapeutic practice.

    Titles in the series include:

    Counselling by Telephone

    Maxine Rosenfield

    Medical and Psychiatric Issues for Counsellors

    Brian Daines, Linda Gask and Tim Usherwood

    Time-Limited Counselling

    Colin Feltham

    Personal and Professional Development for Counsellors

    Paul Wilkins

    Client Assessment

    edited by Stephen Palmer and Gladeana McMahon

    Counselling, Psychotherapy and the Law

    Peter Jenkins

    Contracts in Counselling

    edited by Charlotte Sills

    Counselling Difficult Clients

    Kingsley Norton and Gill McGauley

    Learning and Writing in Counselling

    Mhairi MacMillan and Dot Clark

    Long-Term Counselling

    Geraldine Shipton and Eileen Smith

    Referral and Termination Issues for Counsellors

    Anne Leigh

    Counselling and Psychotherapy in Private Practice

    Roger Thistle

    The Management of Counselling and Psychotherapy Agencies

    Colin Lago and Duncan Kitchin

    Group Counselling

    Keith Tudor

    Understanding the Counselling Relationship

    edited by Colin Feltham

    Practitioner Research in Counselling

    John McLeod

    Anti-discriminatory Counselling Practice

    edited by Colin Lago and Barbara Smith

    Counselling Through the Life-Course

    Léonie Sugarman


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    List of Contributors

    Charlotte Sills is a counsellor and UKCP registered integrative psychotherapist in private practice. She is also Visiting Professor at Middlesex University and Head of the Transactional Analysis Department at Metanoia Institute, responsible for Diploma, MSc and BA courses in TA. For more than 20 years she has been working as a trainer, supervisor and consultant in a variety of settings, including the National Institute of Social Work and mental health organisations. Recently she is a co-designer and Director of Ashridge Consulting's Coaching for Consultants Course. She is the author or co-author of a number of books and articles in the field, including Integration in Counselling and Psychotherapy by Lapworth, Sills and Fish (Sage 2002) and Transactional Analysis – A Relational Perspective by Hargaden and Sills (Routledge 2001).

    Jenifer Elton Wilson D.Psych. is a Chartered Counselling Psychologist, UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and BACP Accredited Supervisor, whose work as a practitioner has, until recently, focused upon the design, validation and implementation of a doctoral programme in psychotherapy by professional studies, delivered as a joint programme by Middlesex University and the Metanoia Institute. Jenifer has published widely in the professional field, particularly with regard to effective and time-conscious therapy. She is a member of the Membership and Professional Training Board of the British Psychological Society and is their representative on the Society-wide Ethics Committee. Having relinquished her recent role as Head of Department of the Middlesex/Metanoia Doctoral programme, Jenifer is in private practice as a therapist, a clinical supervisor, an academic and organisational consultant and free-lance trainer. She is currently engaged in co-writing a book on the objectives and outcomes of psychotherapy for the Open University Press.

    Michael Jacobs is now retired, but was formerly Director of the Counselling and Psychotherapy programme at the University of Leicester. He is a Visiting Professor at Bournemouth University, a Fellow of BACP and a UKCP registered psychodynamic psychotherapist. Amongst his many publications, he is well known for Psychodynamic Counselling in Action, third edition (Sage 2004) and The Presenting Past (Open University Press). He has edited a number of series, including most recently an important international series Core Concepts in Therapy (Open University Press). He has a small independent practice and continues to contribute in a number of ways to the profession.

    Peter Jenkins is a Senior Lecturer in Counselling at Salford University, a BACP Accredited Counsellor Trainer, and a member of the Professional Conduct Committee of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. He has extensive experience of training counselling practitioners and organisations on legal aspects of therapy such as confidentiality, and has published widely on this topic. His most recent publication on this topic is Psychotherapy and the Law: Questions and Answers for Counsellors and Therapists (Whurr 2004).

    James Kepner is a psychologist and body-oriented psychotherapist. He serves as a trainer and in private practice. He is the author of Body Process: A Gestalt Approach to Working with the Body in Therapy (Gestalt Press 1987) and Healing Tasks: Psychotherapy with Adult Survivors of Childhood Abuse (Gestalt Press 1995).

    Adrienne Lee is accredited by ITAA/EATA as a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst and is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and a Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. Adrienne has been a mother, a university teacher, and a psychotherapist for more than 30 years and specialises in facilitating people to integrate spirituality in their psychotherapy. She has been centrally involved in the development of TA in Britain from its very beginnings and is a Founder Member and past Chair of the UK's Institute of Transactional Analysis (ITA). She has been a Board Member of EATA, on the committees of the PTSC and COC and one of EATA's representatives on the Board of The European Association of Psychotherapy (EAP). Adrienne is now the President of EATA (July 2004-July 2007). Together with Ian Stewart, she has founded and is Co-Director of The Berne Institute in Nottingham. Her professional career is dedicated now to the professional training of TA psychotherapists and to the training and development of their trainers and supervisors.

    Geoff Mothersole is a Consultant Counselling Psychologist and Head of Primary Care Mental Health for West Sussex Health and Social Care Trust. In this capacity he runs a Primary Care Counselling Service. His current interest is in using routine clinical audit to develop clinical work, and his doctoral research was on the use of the CORE system. He is current chair of the CORE Benchmarking Network, a practice research network interested in developing the links between practice and research in relation to the CORE system. He has written a number of articles and book chapters and is past Professional Development Officer of UKCP.

    Brigid Proctor is a Fellow and Recognised Supervisor of BACP. She was first Chair of the Training and of the Standards and Ethics Committees. With Francesca Inskipp she has been responsible for developing Open Learning materials and training for supervisors. These now form the basis of the training work of CASCADE Associates. Formerly Director of SW London College Counselling Course Centre, she now works free-lance as a counsellor, supervisor, trainer, consultant and writer. Her current interest is developing and writing about creative group supervision. Her flexible working is grounded in her experience of the power of person-centred relating and the belief that that necessarily makes for varied and innovative practice.

    Ian Stewart is Co-Director of The Berne Institute in Nottingham. He is accredited by ITAA/EATA as a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst, and is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist and a Master Practitioner in Neuro-Linguistic Programming. He is co-author (with Vann S. Joines) of TA Today (Lifespace 1987) and Personality Adaptations (Lifespace 2002), and author of Transactional Analysis Counselling in Action (Sage, 2nd edn 2000), Eric Berne (Sage 1992) and Developing Transactional Analysis Counselling (Sage 1996).

    Keith Tudor has worked for nearly 30 years in the helping professions in a number of settings. He is a qualified and registered psychotherapist, group psychotherapist and facilitator, and has a private/independent practice in Sheffield offering therapy, supervision and consultancy where he is a Director of Temenos and its Postgraduate Diploma/MSc Course in Person-centred Psychotherapy and Counselling. He is a Teaching and Supervising Transactional Analyst, and an Honorary Fellow in the School of Health, Liverpool John Moores University. He is a widely published author in the field of psychotherapy and counselling, with over 60 papers and seven books to his name. He is on the editorial advisory board of three international journals and is the series editor of Advancing Theory in Therapy (published by Routledge).

    Max Wide was until recently Lead Associate for Leadership and Cultural Change with the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) Enterprises Ltd. He has now been appointed as Head of Strategy for BT Government. He is a graduate of Henley Management Centre. He no longer works in the world of counselling and pschotherapy but regards it as the best possible grounding for the work he now does in organisational development. He is a widely published author in his field, most recently Transforming Your Authority (Office for the Deputy Prime Minister 2005), Leadership United: a Toolkit for Working in a Political Environment (SOLACE Commission 2005) and The Working Council (TSO 2003). He lives in Somerset with his partner and their two sons.

    Frank Wills was born in Birkenhead and is an avid supporter of Tranmere Rovers FC. He is an independent accredited counsellor and registered cognitive psychotherapist, practising in Bristol. He has co-authored several books on cognitive therapy, including, with Diana Sanders, Cognitive Therapy: An Introduction (Sage 2005). He has also recorded some video tapes demonstrating the skills of cognitive therapy, available from the School of Social Studies in the University of Wales Newport. He is currently working on a book describing the main skills of cognitive therapy.

    Mike Worrall works as a counsellor and supervisor in Oxford. He studied English Literature and then worked for nine years in the Probation Service, before training in the person-centred approach at Metanoia. He is the author or co-author of a number of chapters and articles, co-editor of a collection of papers on person-centred supervision and co-author of two books on person-centred philosophy, theory and practice.

    Foreword to the Second Edition

    It has been a real treat to prepare this second edition; it has felt like being part of a whole new book. In this edition, there are two entirely new chapters, two that have been radically changed and two of the old chapters that have been either removed or amalgamated in light of the changing field of psychotherapy and counselling. The others have been revised and updated and it has been interesting and stimulating to read the revised chapters and to see how the authors have changed and developed their thinking over the years since the first edition. And not only the authors: so many developments in the field – in theoretical approach, in understanding about therapy and how it works – are reflected in the ideas in the book.

    The previous edition of the book was called Contracts in Counselling as it was part of a series on Professional Skills for Counsellors. However, readers of the book regularly commented that this title seemed restrictive. The thoughts and ideas about contracts in this book apply as well to the practice of ‘psychotherapy’ as to ‘counselling’ and indeed to coaching, mentoring or statutory health work. As a result, we changed the title of the book and, in their revisions, the authors refer alternately to different traditions. Mostly we use the generic labels: practitioner, therapist or clinician throughout. If a specific form of psychological work is intended, this is made clear; otherwise the concepts are universal. Similarly we use gender pronouns randomly.

    My thanks once again to friend and colleague, Keith Tudor, for his creative thinking about the design of the book and to Louise Wise and Rachel Burrows at Sage for their ongoing support.

  • Appendix I: Contract for Counselling Relationship


    This contract is between ___________________ CLIENT, and Joanna Purdie, COUNSELLOR.

    Dated ________________

    The Counsellor

    I am a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and the British Association for the Person Centred Approach and as such subscribe to their Code of Ethics and Professional Practice (a copy of which is available from the BACP).

    I work using the Person-centred Approach to counselling, which is rooted in the pioneering work of Dr Carl Rogers, an eminent psychologist and therapist, a theory which continues to develop. The Person-centred Approach is based on a belief that it is the client who knows what is painful and at the culmination of counselling it is the client who knows best how to move forward. I also extend counselling by offering Person-centred Expressive Therapy which involves using art materials such as paint and clay. This form of counselling may not be suitable for all individuals, as is the case with other theories.

    I am committed to providing a safe, therapeutic environment for my clients. We are both making a commitment of time and energy to each other in deciding to work together. It is important for you to know what agreements we are making together and so what to expect.

    Confidentiality and Records

    The content of the sessions are confidential to you and me. I will need to discuss our work with my supervisor. I will use your first name but will not use any other identifying details about you. It is important that you also respect the confidentiality of our sessions when outside the relationship, so as to protect the integrity of the work.

    On very rare occasions if we discover there is a need to communicate with other professionals, this will only proceed after first seeking your permission and knowledge of what is to be discussed. I make brief notes after a session and also use audio tapes whilst I am working: this helps me to monitor my work. You will not be identified from these records and they are securely stored.

    Sessions and Fees

    Sessions will be for _____ hour/s every week/month initially, I operate a sliding scale of £ ______ to £ _____ per hour, unless otherwise negotiated. Insert details here:

    The whole hour belongs to you. I will be there for you whether you decide to attend or not. If you come in five minutes from the end of our time together I will still be there, but it is important to end our session on time. No smoking is allowed inside the building and I will not see your if you are under the influence of alcohol, both for health and therapeutic reasons.

    Depending on the length of time we contract to work together, I may require NOTICE from you to end counselling. In your case this will be ______ days/weeks/months (delete).


    In any event of my not being able to give you your sessions because of illness, or because I may attend training sessions or meetings, I will give you as much notice as possible and offer you an alternative time. I require at least 48 hours notice if you need to cancel a session. You will be charged for any missed sessions.

    Our Relationship

    To be clear about our counselling relationship, there can be no other contact between us other than client/counsellor. I cannot be your friend outside of the relationship or be involved with you in any other relationship.

    If we accidentally meet outside of this room I will acknowledge you in a brief and friendly manner, unless you express your wish not to be acknowledged.


    It is important for you to be able to be yourself fully during counselling. This will involve showing different aspects of your personality and at times being able to express yourself by your behaviour, but please realise that it will not be acceptable if you damage this property, me, or yourself in any way.


    We have contracted to work together for ________ sessions initially, continuation to be reviewed.

    There may be times in the counselling when you feel very distressed and feel that counselling is not helping you. It is wise to come and discuss these difficulties and not to suddenly end the counselling. This will give you the opportunity to understand and perhaps resolve your distress.

    Usually you will know when you are ready to cease counselling and together we will find the way that feels comfortable for you to do this.

    Please Read This Document Carefully

    Check it is what we have agreed together today. Unless you have any queries, these are our boundaries and ground rules which will enable us to work together. If you wish to discuss or negotiate any changes I will be happy to do so before you sign.

    This agreement is fully understood and agreed to and is signed as it stands, by:




    Appendix II: Contract for Gestalt Psychotherapy


    I consent to my work with Graham Colbourne being respectfully, anonymously and confidentially presented to his supervisor and supervision group in order to monitor, maintain and enhance quality. I consent to personal information and work being recorded in writing or electronically solely for the purposes of record keeping, supervision and professional accreditation. I consent to my work being used/published anonymously for clinical dissemination, on the understanding that I will not be identified. I understand that I can request at any time that any electronically recorded information will be deleted, or that the conditions of its use be amended. I agree to Graham Colbourne breaking confidentiality if he believes this may reduce risk to me or another.

    I agree to pay £         fee per session for sessions as agreed whether or not I attend. I agree not to enter into a contract with any other therapist/counsellor without prior consultation with Graham Colbourne.

    I, Graham Colbourne, agree to work with you in accordance with the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute code of ethics (copy available on request). I agree to protect your identity and to uphold our confidentiality agreement herein.

    Appendix III: Consent Form for Body-Oriented Psychotherapy Treatment


    Note: This form is reproduced with the permission of James Kepner (see Chapter 1). It is included in order to illustrate the sort of careful thinking and discussion that is involved when work with the body forms part of the therapy. It should NOT be copied as stated and used, since its tenets are based on a particular orientation to body psychotherapy, and particular intent for the use of touch. Other therapies may use touch for different purposes and in different ways.

    What it is

    Body-oriented psychotherapy is based on the understanding that the whole person cannot be artificially separated into parts, such as into body and mind. In this view, lack of attention to one's bodily nature would mean to ignore an essential aspect of the person, often left out in their own view of themselves. Body-oriented psychotherapy work can be used as a primary modality of treatment or as an adjunct to other forms of psychotherapy.

    Body Oriented Techniques are Used to
    • Support and increase awareness and insight.
    • Develop the capacity for increased body sensation and emotional feeling.
    • Work with psycho-physical stances and postures which influence our perceptions and interactions in ways in which we are otherwise unaware.
    • Release tensions, emotions and postures which inhibit full functioning.
    Body-Oriented Therapy May Involve, but is Not Limited to, the following Methods
    • Attention to body experience and process.
    • Work with breathing to promote body sensation and awareness.
    • Work with posture and body stance to explore their psychological meanings.
    • Use of hands-on techniques to promote increased self-awareness.
    • Use of hands-on techniques to promote release of tensions and emotions.
    • Use of hands-on ‘energy’ techniques which promote a sense of flow, connection and wholeness.
    • Use of exercises to promote self-care, increased energy and awareness.
    Use of Touch
    • Touch is a commonly used modality in body-oriented psychotherapy. The use of touch is intended to support the development of self awareness.
    • The intention of the use of touch is never to physically cause pain nor to sexually stimulate. If these or other problematic experiences occur, always inform your therapist.
    • Some people find the use of touch to be detrimental or problematic no matter how clear the therapist is in his or her intent or usage of touch.
    • If you are concerned about the use of touch or experience any discomforts with the use of touch, it is essential that you discuss them with your therapist so that together you can decide if these things can be usefully worked with therapeutically or whether touch is not a useful modality of treatment for you at this time.
    Client Rights and Responsibilities

    Like all therapy, body-oriented work is a collaborative process.

    • You have the right at all times to refuse any suggested ways of working.
    • You have the right at all times to stop any therapeutic process for any reason.
    • You have the right to ask questions about and discuss any techniques or procedures.
    • Please let your therapist know of any problems, concerns or other issues that emerge during this, or any other kind of therapy work.

    Care must be taken in the use of physical exercises. Consult your physician if you have any health problems you are aware of before doing exercises. Let your therapist know about any problems, and try any proposed exercises slowly at first until you feel assured that they are safe. This, as with any psychotherapy, may inadvertently leave you feeling worse as uncomfortable emotions, sensations and situations are brought into your awareness. Although the intent is to work these through to some kind of resolution, this is not always possible within a particular session so these feelings may continue beyond session time. Please consult your therapist if this occurs.


    You are encouraged to read the following for further information and understanding:

    Caldwell, C. (ed.) (1997) Getting In Touch: the guide to new body-centered therapies. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.
    Hull, J.B. (1997) Listening to the body. Common Boundary, May/June.
    Kepner, James I. (1993) Body Process: Working with the body in psychotherapy. San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers.

    Your consent or lack of consent to this form of treatment does not preclude other forms of treatment more suitable to you.

    I have read and understood the contents of this document and give my consent to the use of the above procedures in my psychotherapy:

    Signed: ______________________________ Date: _______________

    Print _____________________________________

    This consent may be revoked at any time by informing: James I. Kepner, (therapist address and phone number).

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