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Counselling, Psychotherapy and the Law

Counselling, Psychotherapy and the Law

Second Edition

August 2007 | 256 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Counselling, Psychotherapy and the Law is the long-awaited Second Edition of Peter Jenkins' comprehensive introduction to legal issues in relation to counselling and psychotherapy in the UK. This text has been fully updated to include coverage of the key developments in the law that have had major impact on therapists' practice with regard to data protection and the management of confidentiality. The book breaks new ground by exploring in detail the relationship of ethics to the law and providing a framework for relating the BACP Ethical Framework to legal decision-making.

Key features of this new edition include:

" extensive use of case studies. These bring legal examples to life and give a human dimension to powerful ethical dilemmas such as seeking agreement to end medical treatment, or client's gaining access to their own confidential records

" key points, which provide quick summaries of complex material and reference guides for professional practice

" the multiple points of crossover and intersection of law and therapy. These are identified and explored, ranging from the use of narrative theory, to the provision of pre-trial therapy for abused children, to the role of the therapist as expert witness.

This new edition provides clarity and reassurance for practitioners at all levels about the exact nature of their responsibilities, and how these can best be managed, to enable them to comply with the law and focus on their therapeutic work with clients. Counselling, Psychotherapy and the Law, Second Edition is an essential point of reference for practitioners, making a daunting and complex topic understandable and bringing it to life.

Therapy and the Law
Ethical Principles and the law
Content and Structure of the Law
Communicating Information
Law Relating To Service Provision and Employment
Reform of the Civil Law System
Structure of the Court System
Practical Aspects of Therapists' Involvement with the Courts
Professional Aspects of Therapists' Involvement with the Courts
Professional Negligence
Therapy Case Law
Indemnity Insurance and Professional Protection Societies
Privilege and Confidentiality
Confidentiality and the Public Interest
Breaking Confidentiality
Recording Therapeutic Work
Access to Client Material
The Rights of Children and Young People
Key Issues in Therapy with Children and Young People
Settings for Therapy with Children and Young People
Statutory Recognition of Therapy
Statutory Regulation of Therapists
Therapy, Professional Power and Society


This is a book for the current times, where the professions are experiencing a heightened concern for ethical behaviour among their practitioners. Peter Jenkins appreciates the dilemmas facing the professions offering counselling and psychotherapy, especially that of the protected space versus the protected professional. Helpful to the reader are the boxes and case studies throughout the text. The boxes outline key points. The case studies are excerpts from law reports, published personal accounts by clients and books by therapists and bring immediacy and life to the concepts. While directed at a UK audience of counsellors and psychotherapists, this book is suitable for the Australian context. This is a valuable book for those practicing counselling and psychotherapy.

Cecelia Winkelman
Psychology, Australian Catholic University, Fitzroy VIC
Journal of Family Studies


Despite requiring real concentration, this is an essential read for counsellors and psychotherapists irrespective of background and theoretical orientation. Trainers, supervisors and agency coordinators especially would benefit from the up to date material contained here.

Therapy Today


Jenkins' book makes the law relevant, understandable and manageable to counsellors and psychotherapists. It makes clear, reassuring and essential reading for therapists in training as well as those in practice. [All] counsellors and psychotherapisys need to be up to speed with the law and with how it relates to their work. This book is more than timely with the impending introduction of regulation, and the fact that increasingly the work of counsellors and psychotherapists is being subjected to legal scrutiny.

Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal


Peter Jenkins has consulted widely over the content of this book, both within the psychological therapies field and with legal eagles. [His] use of clear flow diagrams and comparison boxes enable the reader to identify the similarities and differences between professional and moral/ethical debates. It is a thoroughly researched and accessible text.

Association for University and College Counselling Journal


A comprehensive overview of a rapidly evolving field. This book represents a helpful addition to practitioners' bookshelves as a reference work, but also a beneficial read to stimulate thoughtful responses to practical dilemmas. It provides a good support to both therapeutic and supervision practices across the spectrum of experience and theoretical models.

The Psychotherapist

Clear, concise access to understanding and applying the law in relation to counselling and psychotherapy. Provides key overview of the impact of the law for counsellors. Enables students to recognise their ethical boundaries within the therapeutic environment.

Mrs Valentina Bowley
Counselling, CALAT
August 20, 2019

This is an excellent book for students preparing to go out on placement, it gives a detailed account of ethical/legal considerations of their work and uses case studies/examples throughout. This book will be a valuable resource for our students and is being recommended as essential reading

Ms Deana Friel
Health and Social Care , North West Regional College
September 14, 2016

Excellent, readable and down to earth material and scenarios. I used this book with 2nd year BSc counselling students just recently and they all agree that it is the one book that every trainee and therapist should have on the shelf.

Ms Eilish McGuinness
Counselling & Psychotherapy Department, PCI College
November 9, 2015

Highly recommended, comprehensive text on psychotherapy and the law. Good chapters on a variety of aspects such as confidentiality, data protection etcetera. Students have found this to be a good resource for their essays and presentations. Not only a good introductory text.

Dr Helen Nicholas
Psychology Department, Worcester University
October 19, 2015

A standard on this topic which is readable and easy for students to use

Mr Simon O'Donohoe
Faculty of Care, Child Care, Entry Level, Counselling, and Landbased Studies, Carmarthenshire College
March 3, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

PDF of Introduction

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