More Americans than ever are seeking mental health treatment. The CDC reports that 19.2% of Americans have seen some type of mental health professional in the past 12 months.
While the growing number of people seeing a therapist can be great for job security of the profession, it also means that therapists have to deal with the issues that come with dealing with a growing number of patients. One of the biggest concerns is dealing with the risk of having a complaint filed against them.
It may be distressing to receive complaints as a counsellor but it’s important that they are addressed in the correct and appropriate manner. You need to be able to show your clients that you are professional, responsible, and trustworthy – if you do, not only will you inspire confidence with your response to complaints, but you’ll find that they become less likely to occur in the first place.
This article looks at how you can protect yourself and try to keep complaints to a minimum.
Ensure that you have insurance
Healthcare practitioners need to have malpractice insurance. Counsellors need to have a similar form of insurance.
Offering professional counselling services means that you are expected to provide suitable care and support to your clients. No matter how supportive you may be, some clients may not be completely satisfied with your service.
To help with these incidents, acquire counsellors’ insurance so that you are protected against complaints made against you. Learn to manage any risks within your workplace and give yourself peace of mind that you and your business are not left vulnerable.
Complaints about service
The most common complaint made against counsellors is that the patient is left dissatisfied with their experience. For example, the therapist may fail to make the patient aware of therapeutic processes and procedures or may mistakenly cause trauma to the client.
You can minimize this risk by proving that you are a great mental health professional. Ensure that you make clear notes throughout the appointment with your patient, keeping a thorough record of what you have discussed. Clearly describe the process and exactly how you work with the patient, to make them aware that you are fully complying with all requirements.
Breach of regulations
Try to consistently familiarise yourself with the rules and regulations that apply to you in your role as a counsellor, as some patients may complain if they feel that you have breached any of these conditions or perhaps have not met expectations.
Clear communication with your patients is vital to what you do and that extends to explaining your commitment to upholding professional standards.
Follow the rules of the professional body for which you work and ensure that you are always fully complying with all standard procedures. Allow yourself to fully engage and communicate with your professional body and be aware of any sanctions that you have received from them.
Breach of confidentiality
Confidentiality is incredibly important to your patients, as it is their legal right to have their conversations with you protected.
Handling sensitive data and ensuring that any information on your patient remains confidential is crucial to the success of your counselling services and business. The smallest of mistakes with regards to privacy can be catastrophic and may cause you to lose your job.
Take extra precautions while conducting your counselling sessions, especially if you have multiple patients in one day. Stay aware of any involvement from external agencies, such as social services, so to not cross over any information that the client may not want to be disclosed.