Terms of Service Agreement: These terms are between the purchaser (you/the client) and the provider (Sophie L. Robinson-Matthews) and purchase of service indicates that you agree to and understand these following terms.
The counsellor/psychotherapist/coach: I am a BACP member (British Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists) and I am bound by its code of conduct and I am subject to its public protection procedure. I follow the BACP ethical framework for good practice in counselling and psychotherapy. A copy of the framework can be found on their website www.bacp.co.uk. I work using an integrated model of counselling and psychotherapy with a person-centered approach as my core, which was originally developed by Rogers. I am committed to providing a safe, therapeutic environment for my clients. My approach is solution-focused although we may go into your history to explore the origins of the issue if you would like. I may use various techniques for relaxation and stress management to help you with coping strategies and emotional management as necessary.
Confidentiality & Records: I will ask you for your personal information to enable me to provide you with my service. Under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998 you must give your informed agreement to such records being made and retained. It is your right not to agree, but in such cases, I am unable to provide a service. The content of the sessions is confidential to you and me. I will need to discuss my work with my supervisor (who adheres to BACP ethical codes) but you will not be identified. This is standard best practice and helps me to work as well as I can with you. On very rare occasions that we discover there is a need to communicate with other professionals, this will only happen by first seeking your permission and knowledge of what is going to be discussed. The possible exceptions to this non-sharing code are: If I think you are at risk of giving or receiving serious harm from yourself or others, if I am required to do so by a UK court of law. In the case of a disclosure concerning acts of terrorism, or the disclosure of incidents within the remit of the Children’s Law, confidentiality will be broken and such disclosures will be passed to the relevant authority without delay as any professional is required to do so by law.
I make brief notes after each session to help me monitor my work. You will not be identified from these; they are securely stored, and no other person has access to them in line with current Data Protection laws. Access to view information kept on you can be made in writing and relevant information will then be provided within 10 working days of receipt of the request. This contract and notes are held for six years upon the end of the service/contract end.
Counselling and Psychotherapy and Coaching aims: The aim is to provide you, the client, with a confidential opportunity to explore personal issues in safety. My role as a counsellor and psychotherapist is to help you through this process without judgment or telling you what to do. I may on occasion give information or prompt the exploration of different ways of thinking. We will agree on goals to work towards in therapy, and we will assess progress and address any obstacles at each session. All of my sessions are intended to be both nurturing and empowering. I do not believe that you should be encouraged to be a passive observer in your own life but to accept that you are in charge of it and take ultimate responsibility for it. All of my sessions are intended to have real therapeutic value and to offer a different perspective where necessary. Tough-loving, difficult messages may come up. I will deliver them with the highest level of sensitivity because the goal is for you to make the necessary changes you need to but at a pace you can cope with.
Client/therapist relationship: Our relationship will remain a professional one. In accordance with BACP guidelines, I will honor the trust placed in me by the client, will respect the client’s right to be self-governing, will commit to promoting the client’s well-being, will avoid harm to the client, and will strive to treat all clients fairly and impartially. Email/text correspondence between sessions is at my own discretion and is not included in the purchase price. If you wish to send me any email/text message/telephone updates regarding the things we are working on in your sessions, please be aware that responses are not obligatory and I may not have time to read through your correspondence and reply in all cases – communication outside of sessions is at my discretion and is not obligatory, please do not be offended if a message is not replied to. Please respect my privacy and do not give out my address, if someone would like to work with me, provide them with my website details so they can contact me through there, and do arrive at my address without an appointment. If you are in a desperate situation, please ring a helpline in the first instance such as UK Samaritans 24/7 on 116123, UK Papyrus on 0800 0864141 (hours vary), or UK 111/ 999 as appropriate.
Process – what to be prepared for: While the aim of psychotherapy is to work with you through the difficulty and to help you develop new ways of coping, some people find that they feel worse for a short time before they start to feel better (likened to the initial ripping a plaster off). In these circumstances, it is best to discuss the difficulties, rather than abruptly end therapy. The client is always in charge of the decision to continue or to stop therapy and will not be under any pressure to continue at any point, but I ask that we ensure a proper end takes place in line with best practice. You are your wisest advisor, I'm here to reflect what I hear and see, drawing upon my over a decade of experience in mental health - so you sleep on and ultimately decide anything I say to you, you have self-autonomy and choice.
Sessions & fees: Sessions will be for the length advertised for that specific service. Fees are payable in advance of your session to secure the appointment: you pay for the next session at the end of the current session. I’m never upset with clients when they miss an appointment, I know that’s life. In return, my clients understand that scheduling an appointment with me is like buying tickets to an event: if you miss the event, it doesn’t matter why you missed it, or even if it was your first time, you can’t turn in your tickets for a refund. Cancellations with less than 24 hours’ notice will incur the full fee for the session. I am self-employed and rely on sessions being attended to keep in business and pay my fees etc. In the event of me not being able to give you a session due to illness, I will give as much notice as possible and give an alternative time and/or date. Fees are reviewed bi-annually; any change will occur on April 1st and December 31st and be communicated to you should your agreed fee be affected. I will never raise fees and expect you to pay without an open discussion with you first, I will seek your consent to raise a fee. Where you age into a new price bracket or your working situation changes, expect the fee the reflect that change, this will be confirmed to you in an email. If you cancel a booked session outside of the minimum cancellation window and do not re-book and request a refund, there is a 5 GBP admin charge for doing so. I understand that life gets in the way. If you have to cancel your appointment, please do so a full 48 hours in advance. Refunds will only be returned to your original paying account. Credits are valid for up to 4 weeks. There are no refunds for cancellations within 24 hours of your allotted appointment time or for missed appointments - the full session fee is still applicable. Cancellations within 48 hours will be half refunded or credited. Cancellations before 48 hours are fully refundable or creditable. Please be advised that late arrivals will result in a reduction of appointment time. There are no refunds in this instance.
Insurance cover: Some private health insurance policies (though not all) will cover counselling and psychotherapy costs, but it is very unlikely they will cover coaching costs; clients are advised to check their cover with their insurer so details can be made for session costs to be covered by the insurer. You must provide me with their details before booking a session if you want them to pay me for you. Receipts can be provided so that you can claim back at a later date from your insurer yourself – this is usually simpler.
Contract length: The contract length is determined by the client and the issue(s) being explored and has no upper limit. It is helpful to attend regularly (weekly/fortnightly) while an issue is being worked on, as too many gaps may slow down the progress of therapy. Intervals between sessions may lengthen as the therapy progresses. Gaps between psychotherapy and coaching sessions may be longer (monthly or less often) and continue indefinitely.
End of contract: In the normal course of events you will probably know when you are ready to finish therapy, and we will agree together on the work we need to do to prepare for this; this will include an appraisal of future challenges, and planning alternative strategies to manage these.
Referrals: Where it is deemed necessary and after discussion with you (the client), a referral to another agency may be made if I feel that I can no longer support you for any reason but the onus for continuity of service is upon you.
Refunds: I cannot give refunds for completed sessions which are found to contain unsatisfactory advice or insights. My work is not about telling you exactly what you want to hear. Be sure that you are ready to be challenged by some content in a session. I will only be honest with you. I am not a financial advisor, lawyer, business analyst, psychiatrist, midwife, nurse, nutritionist or doctor so I will only encourage you to seek advice from professionals in those fields.
Cancellation: I will not see you if you are under the influence of alcohol / illegal substances. If you are over ten minutes late for your appointment, it will be considered a 'no show' and you will be asked to rebook and will not be refunded. This is because going over ten minutes into the session time means that there is not enough time for you to gain the maximum amount from the session. I have the right to terminate our working relationship and refuse service at any time and am not obligated to disclose to you my full reasoning to do so but I will not do so without the full backing and agreement of my clinical supervisor, who will understand my full reasoning for terminating this contract.