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 and inadvertently risk failing their clients, unethical practice or breaking 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 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 and Wales. The training covers both the original guidance (HO/CPSDH, 2001) and the proposed new guidance outlined in the public consultation in October 2020 and discussed in the article below - 'Supporting victims when they need it most'
"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
Before working with a client who may proceed to court, counsellors/therapists are strongly advised to:
consult the appropriate CPS guidance
seek PTT training/ CPD
explore the issues in supervision
develop PTT paperwork, policies and proceedures to enable a proactive rather than reactive approach
"Achieving justice can itself have real therapeutic value when appropriate support is in place."
However, reporting to the police and, if there is enough evidence, proceeding to a criminal trial is not the only option available.
To hear others experiences of recovery, seeking justice and other options click below
NOTE: Survivors of childhood sexual abuse talking about their experiences of reporting & recovery, not details of the abuse they experienced.
'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
'Legal and ethical issues in therapeutic work in the criminal justice system'
by Peter Jenkins and Jill Swindells from 'Interventions in Criminal Justice, Volume 2' (Ed. Peter Jones, Pavilion Publishing, 2015)
Jill responds to BACP's Therapy Today's Dilemmas relating to PTT directly or where some principles might be helpful.
'Counselling victims and witnesses of crime'
Jill Swindells 2012
'Access to Pre-Trial Therapy'
Peter Jenkins writes in BACP's Therapy Today in 2013
'Pre-Trial Therapy' (PTT) workshops
'Pre-Trial Therapy' (PTT) provides both children/young people and vulnerable /intimidated adult witnesses with therapeutic support before and/or during attending a criminal court.
It was introduced in 2001 by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS): 'Provision of therapy for child/vulnerable and intimidated adult witnesses prior to a criminal trial' .
NOTE: The CPS term ‘witnesses’ includes victims, as they are 'witnesses to the offence against themselves'.
PTT is designed to enable eligible clients to engage in therapeutic support without contaminating the so-called 'evidence' (the details of what happened) or being perceived as 'coached' to appear in court. From a legal perspective, both would risk the case failing and being thrown out of court.
In addition to PTT, other types of support may be available to some witnesses, e.g. special measures/ intermediaries.
Additional support can be found here for everyone, including those not eligible for PTT:
Ideally PTT should be adopted from the outset with any eligible client who has reported or not yet decided whether to report to avoid mistakes being made, e.g. detailed discussion of what happened and client notes made; this risks notes being subpoenaed and therapists called to appear as witnesses.
If a client decides to report, the police interview should take place ASAP and PTT can continue until the trial is over or the case fails to get to court.
If a client decides not to report, 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.
NOTE: Two Dilemma's adjacent show how some of the principles of PTT can help inform decision making / good practice when working with alleged offenders disclosures.
Workshops can be tailored to your needs. They typically involve a one day workshop for 8-20 people.
The objectives of the workshop are to understand :
the CPS PTT guidance - old and new (who eligible, who decides, who to tell, when to start, etc.)
implications for practice (do's don'ts & differences, e.g. initial disclosures, dangers of discussion, confidentiality, contracting, disclosure consent, notes, 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 PTT principles when working with clients who might appear in family or civil courts or, indeed, as the accused in a criminal court
Other things you might like to know before making an enquiry:
the workshop is informative and interactive, with time for discussion, reflection and Q&A
the session is contracted to ensure a safe learning and sharing environment
a detailed hard copy handout is provided which includes key information, practical exercises, references, etc. (either 1 free of additional charge hard copy for you to duplicate/1 per person attending provided at cost)
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 and lunch
the heavily subsidised cost is £400 per workshop for charities and £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 and any adaptations/ additions required to the workshop, will be estimated in advance following a discussion of your needs and will be charged at cost.
Based in the Midlands. Contact details on request using contact form.
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