Policies and Practice

Counselling Policy

1   Context

1.1   The primary task of WHY is the provision of free counselling for anyone aged from 4 years upwards

  • Diagnosed with cancer or life threatening illness
  • Affected by a cancer or life threatening illness diagnosis – family member, carer or friend
  • Bereaved by cancer or life threatening illness

1.2   Counselling offers an opportunity for individuals affected by cancer or life threatening illness to talk and be heard in a safe, non-judgemental environment.  The expression of fear and anxiety can benefit mental and physical well being.  The counsellor’s role in this process is to aid the individual in ways that respect his/her values and capacity for self determination.  The counsellor will not give advice but will help the individual explore options. The practitioner’s role in this process is to aid the individual in ways that respect his/her values and capacity for self determination.

2   Entitlement

2.1   Counselling is available to anyone, affected by cancer in Somerset, Wiltshire and BANES.

2.2   Service users are entitled to expect a high quality therapeutic Counselling Service which

  • is client focussed
  • is delivered by appropriately qualified counsellors

As an organisational member of BACP, WHY is bound by its Ethical Framework for good practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy and subject to professional conduct procedures for the time being in force.

3   Professional Practice 

3.1   All counsellors are trained to diploma level and committed to maintaining their competence through on-going professional development.

3.2   All counsellors and staff have undergone Disclosure and Barring checks.

3.3   Counsellors have regular supervision with an experienced qualified counsellor who is experienced in supervision.

3.4   Counsellors will not misrepresent their training or experience.

4   Client Confidentiality

4.1   The client confidentiality policy is contained in the Counselling Agreement, a copy of which is given to each client at the first session. The counsellor is required to explain exceptions to confidentiality to each client verbally at the beginning of the first session.

4.2   The BACP Ethical Framework requires that counsellors offer the highest possible levels of confidentiality in order to respect the client’s privacy and create the trust necessary for counselling.

4.3   In exceptional circumstances, the counsellor may take the decision to break confidentiality, with or without the client’s consent if necessary where, in his/her professional judgement:

  • there is a risk of the client harming themselves or being harmed
  • there is a risk of another person being harmed
  • there are safeguarding issues

In such circumstances the counsellor will always

●   Seek to obtain the client’s, or if appropriate the parent/guardian consent prior to disclosure

●   Discuss with his/her supervisor

●   Inform the Director of any planned breach of confidentiality.

4.4   It is therefore ethically and legally unwise to promise “total” or ”absolute” confidentiality. Positive Action on Cancer offers confidentiality within the law and the BACP Ethical Framework.

4.5   During counselling, the counsellors must ensure that all client information is stored securely and separate from personal data forms.  Once counselling has finished, counselling records and brief case notes are held at the WHY office and will be kept securely locked away. Client’s contact details will be held separately from case notes.  Please see Data Protection policy / procedure.

5   Service Delivery

5.1   Counselling will be provided in an appropriate, safe and confidential environment.

5.2   Counselling sessions will last for up to 50 minutes and will normally be on a weekly basis, at the same time and day each week.

5.3   Initial appointments will be booked via the Office Manager and thereafter with the allocated counsellor.

5.4   The counsellor will have access to a list of referral agencies in the area, held by WHY.

6   Monitoring and evaluation

6.1   Evaluation is carried out via evaluation forms offered to each client at the end of their sessions.  Clients are informed at the start of counselling that evaluation forms will be offered, but do not have to be filled out.

6.2   WHY uses CORE evaluation. Clients are given an information sheet about CORE at the start of counselling and asked if they are willing to complete an evaluation form. If they are willing to participate they are asked to sign a consent form to enable the data to be used anonymously. Clients are asked to complete the final CORE form at the last counselling session

7   Insurance

7.1   Public liability insurance is held to cover counsellors working at all of WHY’s venues.

Safeguarding Children Policy

We Hear You believes that it is always unacceptable for a child or young person to experience abuse of any kind and recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children and young people, by a commitment to practice which protects them.

We recognise that:

*  the welfare of the child/young person is paramount

*  all children regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity have the right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse

*  working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and other agencies is essential in promoting young people’s welfare.

The purpose of the policy:

*  To provide protection for the children and young people who receive WHY’s services, including the children of adult clients.

*  To provide staff and volunteers with guidance on procedures they should adopt in the event that they suspect a child or young person may be experiencing, or be at risk of, harm.

This policy applies to all staff, including senior managers and Board of Trustees, paid staff, volunteers and sessional workers, agency staff, students or anyone working on behalf of WHY

We will endeavour to safeguard children and young people by:

*  valuing them, listening to and respecting them

*  adopting Safeguarding Children guidelines through procedures and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers

*  recruiting staff and volunteers safely ensuring all necessary checks are made

*  sharing information about Safeguarding Children and good practice with children, parents, staff and volunteers

*  sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know, and involving parents and children appropriately

*  providing effective management for staff and volunteers through supervision, support and training.

We are also committed to reviewing our policy and good practice annually.

Vulnerable Adult Policy 

*  WHY provides counselling for people who may be vulnerable due to being affected by a diagnosis of cancer, mental health issues, learning disabilities, dementia or head injury, or may care for someone affected by the above.

*  The policy and procedures have been developed to assist counsellors in recognising if and when there is a need to act in the case of a client’s vulnerability

*  WHY is committed to supporting any counsellor who is working with a vulnerable client in need of external support

*  Counsellors have a responsibility to be aware and alert to signs that all is not well with a vulnerable person. However, they are not responsible for  diagnosing, investigating or providing a therapeutic response to the situation. No action should be taken without discussion with the director.

*  WHY recognises that some vulnerable adults may be subject to abuse and /or neglect

*  WHY Working with Vulnerable Adults Policy is accessible and available to counsellors, staff and trustees, as well as other relevant organisations.

Complaints Policy

The purpose of the Complaints Policy is to ensure that anyone who makes a complaint about any aspect of WHY’s services has their complaint taken seriously. The complaint will be investigated and resolved (where possible) as quickly as possible. The policy is for clients, their carers and families and the general public.


If you need help in using this Complaints Procedure, please do not hesitate to ask.

  • Complaints of a superficial nature should be dealt with informally with your counsellor at the time of complaint. If you are not comfortable in dealing with your counsellor about your complaint, you can contact the WHY office on 01373 455255 or
  • Any member of staff who receives details of a complaint will inform the Clinical Manager / Director.
  • If the complainant is not satisfied with the action taken, or if the complaint is of a serious nature, then the member of staff will report this matter to the Director.
  • The Director will then ask an appropriate member of staff to investigate and report the findings within five working days.
  • All complainants will receive a written acknowledgement within two working days of receipt of their complaint that the matter is being investigated, unless a full reply can be sent within five working days, and a full or interim report will be sent to them within 20 working days of the date of receipt of the complaint.
  • When the investigation is complete the Director will make a decision as to what appropriate action should be taken which may include further investigation.
  • The decision made and the actions taken shall be conveyed to the complainant in writing within the time limit previously stated. The Director may use his/her discretion as to whether a visit would be helpful as well as, or instead of a letter.
  • If any complainant remains dissatisfied, the Chairman of Trustees will do their own investigation and respond to the complainant within a further two weeks.
  • All correspondence and notes referring to complaints will be kept in a locked cabinet in the complaints file in the Director’s office.
  • A register of complaints is maintained including action taken. Trustees will receive a complaints report at their regular meetings. This gives a brief anonymous resume of the complaint and the action taken.

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