The initial appointment to the clinic will involve signing the counselling agreement. The therapist will work through a written agreement which involves standard questions and answers, an explanation of what to expect from attending the clinic and the client and the therapist signing the agreement. It will also be explained in this agreement that the therapist has a duty of care to break confidentiality if they are concerned for the clients’ safety, the safety of another person or a child might be at risk of harm. If this break in confidentiality is required the mental health professional will inform the client and will offer support in the process.
This agreement is standard and just between the client and the therapist. It essentially emphasises the importance of confidentiality and the therapy process. In the case of a client under 18 years of age, one parent or legal guardian must be present at the beginning of the initial session to sign consent for therapy to take place and acknowledge the necessary confidentiality between client and the therapist. In the case of a client under 16 years of age, it is preferably but not essential that both parents or legal guardians are present at the beginning of the initial session to sign consent for therapy to take place and acknowledge the necessary confidentiality between client and the therapist.
Alternatively one parent/legal guardian can attend the initial session on the agreement that they will return the signed parental agreement from the other parent. Or the other parent can give verbal consent and agree to sign the parental agreement at home and returned on the 2nd session. However, this is not always possible as there may be only one legal guardian, a parent is not available due to prior commitments, for legal reasons or the client may become distressed if both parents/legal guardians attend a session and may not engage, etc. This decision is made on a case by case basis and in the best interests of the client and at the discretion of the client’s therapist.