COVID-19 Counselling Agreement Amendment
COVID-19 Counselling Agreement Amendment
Since March 2020 the UK has been following the practice of social distancing to prevent the risk of counsellors and clients contracting COVID-19.
The Counselling Agreement still applies, however this document details a few additional points that we would like you to acknowledge, should local lockdown measures prevent meeting face-to-face and instead are conducted via telephone or video-conferencing platforms.
You and your counsellor may need to consider whether it is appropriate and helpful to continue your counselling at this time, and if so, how you might approach the sessions. Your sessions will be reviewed on a regular basis to check out how things are working for you and to discuss any necessary changes. The aim will to make these sessions as useful as possible whilst also ensuring that the counselling process remains confidential and effective. It is understandable that anxiety levels may be heightened at this time - this is something that affects everyone in different ways, sometimes unexpectedly.
COVID-19 & Your Sessions
As of 8 August, wearing face coverings is now mandatory in a wide range of indoor settings in England, including in premises where personal services are provided to clients.
Further guidance on this subject was issued on 13 August.
In light of these changes, and following guidance from the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC), the use of face coverings are appropriate for clients receiving therapy face to face, to ensure the safety of the client and the therapist.
The updated advice from the Government is that a face mask should be worn in addition to a visor by service providers when social distancing is difficult to maintain. However, within our counselling space social distancing is maintained at approximately 2m, except when entering and leaving the space where it is approximately 1m and therefore face coverings should be worn by both the therapist and the client when entering and leaving the counselling space and a shield by both counsellor and client throughout the session (your counsellor will also wear a mask). Your counsellor will also remotely observe your temperature before entering the counselling space and HCS request that clients download NHS COVID-10 track and trace App prior to commencing counselling, in order to scan the QR code on arrival.
wEARING FACE COVERINGS
The UK Government has announced that it is extending the areas where face coverings are mandatory from 8 August in England, which includes a range of indoor settings when providing personal services to clients.
While the list of settings issued by the Government doesn’t specifically include counselling and psychotherapy, given the extent of the settings covered and following discussions with the DHSC, to ensure the safety of the client and the therapist, at this stage we would encourage the use of face coverings for clients receiving therapy face to face, where appropriate.
There are some circumstances, for health, age or equality reasons, where people are not expected to wear face coverings. If you fall into this category please let us know so that we can take appropriate precautions for the therapist. You are not required to prove you are exempt from a face covering. Those who have an age, health or disability reason for not wearing one will not be routinely asked to give any written evidence of this.
We accept this may raise questions about the possible effect on the therapeutic relationship of wearing a face covering. You may wish to consider whether working online would be a suitable alternative option.
The Government guidance states that where a distance of two metres is not possible, a face mask (type 2 surgical) should be worn, in addition to a clear visor that covers the face.
How this works in the therapy room with HCS is that on entering and leaving face masks will be worn. Even if you can maintain the two metre distance, consider that you and your therapist are at increased risk due to the face to face position and prolonged exposure during a therapy session. This is particularly important where the client is exempt from wearing face coverings themselves.