The wide-ranging contexts in which counselling and psychotherapy is now practiced means clients present with a range of risks that therapists have to respond to. Risk is an ever-present issue for counsellors and psychotherapists and, in an increasingly litigious culture, the need for trainees to develop a sound understanding of how the right tools and the right knowledge can support their practice has never been greater. In this book Andrew Reeves takes trainees, newly qualified practitioners, and more experienced practitioners step-by-step through what is meant by risk, offering practical hints and tips and links to policy and research to inform good ethical practice along the way.

This book tackles: The definition of risk and how risk is linked to social, psychological and relational factors; Working with those who are at risk of suicide, self-injury, self-harm and/or are an endangerment to others; How therapists should respond to the risk in situations involving child protection, mental health crises, and in the therapeutic process itself; The positive side of risk-taking; How counsellors and psychotherapists can work with risk proactively and positively, informed by research.

Filled with case studies, ethical dilemmas, reflective questions, discussion questions and further reading, this book offers counsellors and psychotherapists guidance on how they can work with risk proactively and positively. It is an essential resource for all services, organisations and individual practitioners.

Risk Assessment: Talking and Ticking Boxes

Risk assessment: Talking and ticking boxes

Chapter Outline

’Risk assessment’ is increasingly used as a term to describe a particularly one-dimensional activity: that is, an assessment of the nature, degree or extent of harm that an individual might encounter. This chapter challenges the idea of ‘risk assessment’ as an activity isolated from other relational factors, and instead argues that it is inextricably linked with other social, psychological and relational mechanisms. The use of risk questionnaires and assessment tools will be explored and discussed, as will how risk in its widest sense can be incorporated into the therapeutic dialogue.


The term ‘risk assessment’ is one that has increasingly come into health, social and psychological parlance. Psychiatrists do it, social workers do it, teachers ...

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