The Therapy Contract
The therapy contract is an agreement between you and your client, in which both of you have rights and responsibilities.
Many of us think of therapy itself as a contract, with implied rights and responsibilities.
However, it’s a good idea to have a written therapy contract for your private practice.
Isn’t a therapy contract the same as terms and conditions?
It can certainly include your terms and conditions, which will cover your fees and methods of payment. However, a therapy contract tends to include more informal information relating to the therapy itself.
Essentially, it sets out what your client can expect from you, and what you expect from them.
What to include in your therapy contract
The following are suggestions for what you can include, but the actual content and its level of formality is completely up to you.
1. Your terms and conditions.
2. A request that the client should arrive on time for their appointments, together with information about your cancellation policy.
3. Information about how long the appointment will last, and where it will be held.
4. Confirmation that you will provide clients with a safe and secure environment.
5. Confirmation that you will respect client confidentiality at all times. You may wish to add a disclaimer here, stating that there will be an exception if you believe that the client is about to harm themselves or others.
6. Confirmation that you will be clear with your clients about their treatment and will allow them to have a say in their treatment plan.
7. A request that clients are free of drugs and alcohol during their appointment, and that they treat you with respect and take their treatment seriously.
8. A request for the client’s contact details as well as those of their GP and next of kin, and confirmation that you may contact their GP or next of kin should you feel it appropriate.
9. Information about your therapeutic executor, so that clients know that their information may be given to them in an emergency.
10. You may wish to include information about how therapy can help, and your approach to therapy, so that clients understand a little about what is involved before they begin.
What to do with your therapy contract
Some private practitioners put their therapy contract on their website. Some will send it to clients and ask them to bring a signed copy with them on their first appointment. Others will go through the therapy contract during the initial assessment.
It’s up to you what you do with it and how you use it, but, ideally, you should get the client to sign it if possible. Try not to make your therapy contract look like a list of rules. It should be something that reassures the client, not something that frightens them. A down-to-earth, conversational tone will help.