QUAL. Pre-Trial Therapy (PTT) workshops & resources
"The criminal justice system is often criticised for side-lining victims/witnesses, despite their crucial role in the process, successful prosecutions being dependent on their cooperation and evidence-giving often being intimidating or demeaning. Long investigations and court delays threaten victims/witnesses welfare and limit their ability to give ‘best evidence’ as memories fade, are suppressed or tainted.
In addition, counsellors/therapists may not be doing all they can to help redress the balance and, in some cases, may be exacerbating the situation. It seems therapists are often unaware of being involved in forensic practice, have limited awareness of legal/ethical implications, so inadvertently practice unethically, risk failing their clients and/or break the law through ignorance. Whilst some may be unaware of PTT, others may avoid such work for various reasons, such as fear of compromising the therapeutic relationship.
'Speaking up for Justice' (HO, 1998) stated victims/witnesses “should not be denied the emotional support and counselling they may need both before and after the trial”. Whilst, ‘Achieving Best Evidence Guidance’ (DOJ, 2010) recognised delays can worsen the prognosis and recommended support, including 'pre-trial therapy', should begin as soon as possible for those deemed ‘vulnerable and intimidated’ and in need.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) PTT guidance, for England & Wales (not Scotland), provides a framework for good practice and highlights the key issues. It is critical to therapists meeting the needs of victims/witnesses, working ethically, in the clients best interests and balancing recovery with getting justice".
QUAL offers 'Pre-Trial Therapy' workshops for counsellors/therapists/other interested parties across England & Wales. The new training, from October 2022 onwards, focusses on the new guidance (CPS, 2022) and why the old guidance (CPS, 2001) still has some relevance.
"A tree symbolises many things including courage, strength, stability, security, protection, wishes fulfilled and recovery ... it stands strong through all things ...much like Pre-Trial Therapy"
Articles & Resources
'Doing clients justice'
Jill and Peter Jenkins write in BACP's Therapy Today about the new CPS Pre-Trial Therapy guidance published in 2022.
'Supporting victims when they need it most'
Jill writes in BACP's Therapy Today about the possible changes to the CPS Pre-Trial Therapy guidance in 2020.
Jill responds to BACP's Therapy Today's Dilemmas relating to PTT directly or where some principles might be helpful when working with others, e.g. alleged offenders.
'Legal and ethical issues in therapeutic work in the CJS'
by Peter Jenkins & Jill Swindells from 'Interventions in Criminal Justice, Volume 2' (Ed. Peter Jones, Pavilion Publishing, 2015)
'Counselling victims & witnesses of crime'
Jill Swindells 2012
Before working with a client who may possibly proceed to court, therapists are strongly advised to:
consult the current CPS guidance (2022)
seek PTT training / CPD
explore the issues in supervision
develop PTT paperwork, policies & procedures to enable a proactive rather than reactive approach
"Achieving justice can itself have
real therapeutic value when
appropriate support is in place."
In addition to PTT, Victim Support offers emotional & practical support to people following a crime, Witness Service supports those who attend court, other types of support may be available, e.g. Independent sexual/domestic advisers, special measures, intermediaries, etc. Additional information & support can be found here:
Reporting to the police and, if there is enough evidence, proceeding to a criminal trial is not the only option available.
To hear others stories of recovery, seeking justice & compensation with the support of abuse specialist lawyers, Bolt Burden Kemp (BBK), click below:
WARNING: This link is not suitable for those who might find hearing about others experience of abuse distressing, triggering or retraumatising.
'Pre-Trial Therapy' (PTT) guidance was originally introduced in 2001. It was designed to enable children/young people & adult victims & witnesses to access appropriate therapeutic support before &/ during attending a criminal court.
From a legal perspective, the concerns were about therapists discussing with their clients the details of what happened and possibly contaminating the so-called 'evidence' or coaching the client which risked the case failing and being thrown out of court.
As a consequence therapy (including PTT) was often advised against by both criminal justice system (CJS) stakeholders & some therapists until after the trial or when the case failed to proceed to court; this left victims & witnesses without much needed support (See Supporting victims article).
The guidance was finally updated in 2022. It is primarily aimed at prosecutors & police to help inform their practice & procedures in relation to PTT, particularly around requesting therapy notes, improving their understanding & overcome common myths about the impact of crime/trauma on victims memory & behaviour. NOTE: Given both the poor understanding & limited use of the old guidance for over 20 years, it will be helpful for therapists to be familiar with this part of the PTT guidance as they may need to be able to identify & challenge anyone in the CJS not following the new guidance & either continuing to advise against it or not following key aspects.
The latest guidance also includes 4 fundamental principles & an accompanying note for therapists to aid their understanding of the criminal process, to avoid the pitfalls of certain elements / types of therapy & respond appropriately to police / CPS requests for therapy notes - in line with PTT guidance, data protection legislation &GDPR. (See Doing clients justice article).
According to the guidance, a client is considered to be Pre-Trial if they are the victim & have made an allegation that a crime has been committed against them personally. It focusses on victims of sexual crimes, but is also applicable to victims of other offences.
Ideally a PTT- informed approach should be adopted as soon it becomes evident that there is a possibility a client might become involved in the criminal justice system; this may be from the outset or later after generic counselling rather than PTT has begun. Therapist need to assess if there are any safeguarding concerns & be mindful that clients' situations & decisions may change, for example:
If a client has already reported, they will be officially be Pre-Trial from the outset
If a client decides to report during generic therapy, they should be reassessed & recontract for PTT
If a client decides not to report & there are no safeguarding issues, generic counselling can be adopted, but it is important clients are made aware of the risks of changing their mind later / the possibility of others reporting.
The guidance is not designed for criminal court witnesses or alleged offenders, nor those involved in family or civil proceedings, but some aspects of the guidance can be helpful. NOTE: Two Dilemma's in articles & resources show how some PTT principles can help inform decision making / good practice when working with alleged offenders disclosures.
'Pre-Trial Therapy' (PTT) workshops
The objectives of the workshop are to understand :
the CPS PTT guidance - old & new (who eligible, who decides, who to tell, when to start, etc.)
implications for practice (do's & don'ts & differences, e.g. confidentiality & contracting, disclosure consent, writing notes & initial / subsequent disclosures, responding to requests for notes, court preparation & support)
implications for clients & therapists (if guidance followed/not, avoiding the pitfalls)
legal & ethical context & issues (the balancing act)
the need for a pro-active, multi-agency/disciplinary approach (where PTT fits in with other sources of support)
how to empower rather than silence PTT clients
the potential value of some PTT principles when working with clients who might appear in family or civil courts or, indeed, as the accused in a criminal court, etc.
Workshops are only in-person (not online) & can be tailored to your needs. They typically involve a full day workshop for c.8-20 people - what is practical depends on the venue you provide for the event - ideally it has breakout rooms for syndicate work or enough space to spread out in a large room.
Workshops have been commissioned by counselling agencies / charities / other providers such as MIND, also NHS Trusts, Local Education Authorities, groups of counsellors who provide CPD for their local members & also informal groups of counsellors interested in PTT.
If you are an individual & don't wish to commission a workshop, some commissioners are interested in having other counsellors from outside their organisation / group attend as this helps reduce the overall cost for them. What they charge such individuals is their decision, but it is usually c. £50 per person. Please get in touch & I'll let you know where workshops are taking place that you may be able to join.
Other things you might like to know before making an enquiry:
the workshop is informative &interactive, with time for discussion, reflection, Q&A
the session is contracted to ensure a safe learning &sharing environment
a detailed hard copy handout is provided which includes key information, practical exercises, references, etc. (1 per person attending is provided at cost)
pre reading & post workshop resources are emailed, also extensive resources are available on the day for reference purposes
typically we meet at your location at 9/9.30 for a 10am start, continuing till 4/4.30pm, with breaks for your refreshments & lunch
the heavily subsidised cost is £500 per workshop for charities & £800 for non- charitable organisations, plus a nominal charge for travel time from the Midlands
expenses incurred such as travel, accommodation, subsistence, printing / postage, handouts & any adaptations / additions required to the workshop, will be estimated in advance following a discussion of your needs & will be charged at cost.
Based in the Midlands. Contact details on request using contact form.
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