General Guidance for the Therapist

Advice can be sought from: Your supervisor; and the legal department of your indemnity insurance.  You are under no obligation to provide counselling notes to legal parties unless you are subpoenaed to do so by a court or under police warrant.  Most therapists will submit notes if the client wishes it, has seen what is to be included and given their written permission. Ensure that you and your client are aware of who will see the notes. Notes become a public document and can be used by the defence or the prosecution, and will be seen by legal support staff. Counsellors usually opt for a summary rather than full notes, and need to ensure that no third parties are mentioned without their permission.  

Disclosure of Personal Information to the Police

This guidance is provided to assist health and care organisations to determine whether or not to share information with the police for crime related purposes. It covers circumstances where personal information must be disclosed (i.e under Prevention of Terrorism Act (1989) and Terrorism Act (2000); The Road Traffic Act (1988); The Female Genital Mutilation Act (2003). It also discusses when there is a choice to disclose and the requirements under the Data Protection Act. Examples pertaining to duty of confidentiality are given. The six page document concludes with a summary flow chart to work through should a request be made to you.

College of Policing: Major investigation and public protection.

The professional body for everyone who works for the police service in England and Wales has developed APP (Authorised Professional Practice) which can be accessed online. This is the official source of professional practice on policing.

It is a reference document, with information, guidance and standards relating to various areas of offending. Within the section: ‘Managing sexual offenders and violent offenders’ examples of topics covered are: Notification requirements, Home Visits, Travelling Abroad. There are sections on Child Abuse, Child Sexual Exploitation and Rape and Sexual Offences. Links to relevant documentation is given throughout.

Therapy: Provision of Therapy for Vulnerable or Intimidated Adult Witnesses. Legal guidance, Sexual offences.

Produced by the CPS to implement the Speaking up for Justice Report recommendation that vulnerable or intimidated witnesses should have emotional support pre and post a trial. It is primarily for the assistance of therapists, those who commission or arrange therapy and lawyers involved in making decisions about the provision of therapeutic help. The guidance complements the good practice guidance for child witnesses which was published in February 2001.

Therapists in Court: Providing Evidence and Supporting Witnesses.

Tim Bond and Amanpreet Sandhu. © British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 2005. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Advice for Therapists and Practitioners about the court system. From the initial letter from a solicitor, through report writing to appearing as a witness is covered in Part 1. The second part discusses counselling of witnesses and the legal system. There are many examples given of typical Initial Statements; Disclosure Documents; and several different Court Reports which may be requested under different circumstances. This is a user-friendly handbook.

For information on relevant law and policy on record keeping in counselling practice you may find another publication by Tim Bond, written with retired solicitor and psychotherapist, Barbara Mitchels ( of interest. ‘Confidentiality and Record Keeping in Counselling and Psychotherapy’ 3rd Edition 2021. SAGE Publications Ltd.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check:

An employer or an individual person may apply for a DBS check. Further information is available on the UK government website at: This includes how you can find out what level of DBS you may need and has a link to apply for a basic check for yourself.

You can use other services, such as  which is an independent service not affiliated to the Government, or if you are an employer, you may be able to register with a company such as:

For both standard and enhanced checks from 28th November 2020 a change was made such that childhood cautions are no longer disclosed, and a rule that meant someone with more than one conviction had all their convictions disclosed, regardless of offence or length of time, has been abolished. For further information on this please see:

The Disclosure Calculator

The Disclosure Calculator is a web tool that can be used to find out when a criminal record becomes spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA). This applies to England and Wales

Supporting children and families affected by a family member’s offending – A Practitioner’s Guide. Lindsay Sutherland and Polly Wright.

© Barnardo’s, 2017

A practical informative guide for practitioners working with children and families affected by a family member’s offending. The stages of the criminal justice system are outlined with common questions which may be asked during this process and how to address these. It is practical in approach e.g regarding contact and visits to a parent in prison. It aims to provide an insight into the particular importance of children’s rights, and to understand the impact of offending on children and their families. Incorporating the needs of offenders’ children and families into professional assessments and support plans is covered.

Online Debate 5: Developing a worldly understanding of sexual offenders and their management 2014-2016.

A debate funded by the Leverhulme trus tand run by the Internet Watch Foundation regarding  the increasing importance of cyberspace in sexual offending, in particular in relation to online child sexual abuse and online child sexual exploitation.

Weidman AC, Sowden WJ, BergMK , Kross E. (2020) Punish or Protect? How Close Relationships Shape Responses to Moral Violations.

Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 46(5): 693–708.

Abstract: People have fundamental tendencies to punish immoral actors and treat close others altruistically. What happens when these tendencies collide—do people punish or protect close others who behave immorally? Across 10 studies (N = 2,847), we show that people consistently anticipate protecting close others who commit moral infractions, particularly highly severe acts of theft and sexual harassment. This tendency emerged regardless of gender, political orientation, moral foundations, and disgust sensitivity and was driven by concerns about self-interest, loyalty, and harm. We further find that people justify this tendency by planning to discipline close others on their own. We also identify a psychological mechanism that mitigates the tendency to protect close others who have committed severe (but not mild) moral infractions: self-distancing. These findings highlight the role that relational closeness plays in shaping people’s responses to moral violations, underscoring the need to consider relational closeness in future moral psychology work.