StopSO Policy on Reporting a Client to the Local Authority Children’s Social Care
If you are a counsellor in private practice in England, Scotland or Wales, then there is no legal obligation to report a case of child sexual abuse, be it historic, current or in the future (as at January 2017). For therapists working for the NHS and some agencies there may be a requirement under their contract of employment. For therapists in Northern Ireland, where all citizens are bound to report illegal activity. For more information about the law on reporting and how it applies to counsellors and psychotherapists read here.
ASSESS EACH CASE
Each case has to be assessed individually. Our advice to StopSO therapists is to discuss the case with their supervisor, and where they feel reporting is necessary that they should report to children’s services. Where there is a current contact offence involving a child, then the need to report is clear, and that should be done without hesitation. But where there is concern about an offence in the distant past, or in the future, StopSO recommends a proportionate response. We are not the ‘thought police’. and if a client arrives who does not have access to children, and is asking for help for worrying thoughts, we would recommend working with them, whilst keeping a dynamic risk assessment model in mind throughout the work.
IF YOU DON’T HAVE A SUPERVISOR WHO UNDERSTANDS FORENSIC WORK (RELATING TO CRIME AND THE LAW)
StopSO can put therapists seeking advice and help about any issues related to working with those who feel at risk of committing a sexual offence, or who have done so, in touch with a supervisor who is experienced in this field. The supervisor will offer face to face therapy, or work via VSee (which operates like Skype) or telephone. The supervisor will help the therapist to think through the all the aspects of this work, including the legal issues and ethical dilemmas. This can be accessed as a one-off supervision session, or a contract for ongoing supervision can be agreed.
THERAPISTS ALWAYS HAVE THE RIGHT TO REPORT
Remember that all counsellors and psychotherapists have the right to report instances of child abuse. It is an ethical choice, that will not be taken away.
WHAT WILL HELP PERPETRATORS TO COME FORWARD AND ASK FOR HELP?
The question we ask at StopSO is, “What is going to reduce child abuse the most?” The follow-up question that StopSO asks is, “How can we make it safe enough for people who have committed an offence, or feel at risk of committing an offence, to ask for the therapeutic help they need, to enable them not to act out again.” Helping paedophiles to cope can only be a good thing. By working with perpetrators who are motivated and asking for help to stop, we feel we can reduce sexual offending. If we can offer the potential offender rapid access to treatment, how many offences might be avoided? Thus our therapists are trained to offer a proportionate response to ethical dilemmas.
At StopSO we are dedicated to preventing harm, reducing the sexual abuse of adults and children, and creating a safer society.