Counselling Face to Face - Updated Guidance
The UK Government currently advises that we work from home where possible. The Society's advice to members is to continue to offer services remotely where it is possible to do so. It is important to remember that COVID-19, although apparently past its current peak of infection rates, is it still a highly transmissable and potentially fatal illness, with no vaccine currently available.
Members may make individual decisions to work face to face if they consider that it is not possible to work remotely with a client. Decisions should take into account:
- the heath risk factors for yourself and your client, especially those connected with age, pre-existing health conditions, and so on.
- your ability to create and maintain an appropriately socially distanced and hygienic space for face to face client work.
- the risks to yourself and your client in travelling to and from your clinic space.
- your ability to understand whether you and your client should instead self-isolate, for example, if either of you or anyone living with you has developed potential symptoms of COVID-19.
- That you continue to be aware of Government guidelines and are up to date with them.
- that alternative ways of conducting your client sessions, or postponing their sessions, are not possible or detrimental to your client's wellbeing and welfare.
Taking into account the above, it is your responsibility to make an informed decision regarding face to face practice at this time. The Society recommends raising concerns with your supervisor as well as engaging with your clients as much as possible regarding this issue.
Best Practice for Face to Face Counselling
If you do need to return to working face to face, we recommend following the guidelines below, and taking all possible steps to limit the risk of exposure for both you and your client.
- When seeing clients face to face, ensure that both you and your client practice appropriate hygiene procedures before and after meeting, including hand sanitisation.
- Maintain a good distance of at least two metres from your client.
- Refrain from shaking hands and ensure you have explained to your client why this protocol is being followed.
- Refrain from other physical contact, for example, hugging a client.
- If possible, where providing tissues do not use one central box of tissues. Pre-divide tissues into portions so that different clients do not touch the same tissue boxes. Alternatively, advise clients to bring their own tissues.
- Remember to clean surfaces: phones, laptops, door handles etc, regularly.
Other things to keep in mind:
- Be prepared in case of evolving Government advice to cancel face to face counselling again for a temporary period. It is best to communicate with all clients and inform them that their sessions could be liable to postponement or disruption on a temporary basis. Where possible, offer to clients the option of continuing sessions by phone or video conferencing.
- Be aware of your clients' increased levels of stress and anxiety, and take extra self-care during the current public health crisis. If you feel overwhelmed, seek supervisor and peer support.
- Communicate with the Society when you need to and we will try to help as much as we can
- Inform clients that future sessions will be postponed if they are advised medically to self-isolate, or if they have any symptoms of a cold, cough, respiratory issues or a raised temperature.
- Inform clients that if you are diagnosed with coronavirus the NHS will require that you divulge a list of people you have come in contact with. In such circumstances you will inform the NHS of your contact with your client.
- Make sure you are prepared to communicate with clients in the event that you must self-isolate or fall ill. Rearrange appointments if you have any relevant medical symptoms.
This advice is superceded at all times by Government advice and the law and is subject to change at short notice.
For further Government advice please click here
For further NHS advice please click here
Insurance Cover - Working Face-to-Face
We asked Howden and Balens if they are covering face to face client work for therapists at this time. Here were their answers:
Howden: Yes, provided that it is essential to work face to face and that you follow government guidelines you will be covered.
Balens: We can confirm your policies with Balens are in place to cover against any work you perform. This is subject to you adhering to government guidelines about practicing safely, and any advice you receive from your governing body/associations.
Your training school will be your primary source of information during the coronavirus.
- Trainers are preparing for temporary postponements and rearranging classes so that your training will still take the same amount of time overall.
- Trainers are preparing to offer temporary online alternatives to face to face training.
- Trainers are preparing to offer more theory modules first where possible so that face to face practical work can happen later.
- Trainers will be following Government advice.
- The NCS is preparing to allow slight variations in face to face hours if necessary to ensure your registration is not delayed, and is liaising with the Professional Standards Authority about this.
- Remember this will be a temporary issue and that training normality, if disrupted, will resume and there are lots of contingency plans for this.