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Pre-Trial Therapy Resources

The current PTT guidance (CPS, 2022) & some implications for our practice.



The original guidance (CPS, 2001) 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.


COMMENT: As outlined earlier (PTT brief history & key challenges), given the poor understanding & limited use of the old guidance for over 20 years, it is helpful for therapists to be familiar with this part of the PTT guidance as they 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 our understanding of the criminal process, to avoid the pitfalls of certain elements/types of therapy & respond appropriately to police/CPS requests for our notes - in line with PTT guidance, data protection legislation & GDPR.


Read PTT Guidance (2022)

Read PTT fundamental principles (2022)

Read PTT therapists' notes (2022)

According to the guidance, our client is only considered to be 'pre-trial' if they are a victim who has made an allegation of a crime committed against them personally.  It focusses on victims of sexual crimes, but it also applicable to victims of other offences.

COMMENT: However, ideally a 'PTT-informed approach' should be adopted as soon as it becomes evident that there is a possibility a client might become involved in the criminal justice system; this may be from the outset of therapy, but possibly later after generic counselling, rather than PTT, has begun.  We need to tell our clients about PTT & the implications on our practice, so they can make fully informed decisions as therapy proceeds. Therapists need to be mindful of any newly emerging safeguarding concerns & that clients' situations &/ decisions may change. To clarify: 

  • If a client has already reported, they will 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. 

COMMENT: The 'clients abuser' dilemma in Articles & Resources below demonstrates the value of adopting a 'pre-trial informed approach'.  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.  The 'Access to case notes' & 'Child pornography disclosure' dilemmas in Articles show how some PTT principles can help inform decision making & good practice when working with alleged offenders. 

PTT Articles & Resources

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'Doing Clients Justice

Jill & Peter Jenkins write in BACP's Therapy Today about the new CPS Pre-Trial Therapy guidance published in 2022

Read Doing Clients Justice 

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'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. 

Read Supporting victims with PTT

BACP's Therapy Today Dilemmas

Jill responds to some dilemmas where a 'PTT informed' approach can be helpful when working with others, including alleged offenders. 

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'Legal and ethical issues in therapeutic work in the CJS'

by Peter Jenkins and Jill Swindells from 'Interventions in Criminal Justice, Volume 2'

(Ed. Peter Jones, Pavilion Publishing, 2015)

Read chapter

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For BACP members:

Good Practice in Action Guidance GPIA128 

Working with CPS PTT Guidance in England & Wales,

other past BACP PTT articles/features

primarily about the old guidance (CPS, 2001)


The new law to protect rape survivors therapy notes

(NOTE: if looking for 'Doing Clients Justice' on the BACP website search the title)


'Counselling victims and witnesses of crime

Jill Swindells 2012 

Research paper

Read research paper

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Rape victims’ notes being used against them in court puts vital counselling sessions at risk, therapists warn.

Police can request therapy notes to aid investigations - but campaigners say these should be kept out of rape trials and warn their use can be 're-traumatising'

By Serina Sandhu (October 2022)

(Jill comments)

'Top Tips' & other sources of client support

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When working with a client who may possibly proceed to court, adopt a 'PTT-informed approach' - therapists are strongly advised to:

  • Consult the current CPS guidance (2022) & any future amendments

  • Seek PTT training/CPD & discuss in supervision

  • Develop PTT paperwork, policies & procedures to enable a proactive rather than reactive approach

  • Remember 'achieving justice can itself have real therapeutic value when appropriate support is in place'

  • For concerns /dilemmas now or later talk to your supervisor, professional body, insurance provider, safe guarding lead

or contact Jill @ QUAL for an informal chat

  • Also, familiarise yourself with other sources of client information, advice & support, outlined below

  • Victim Support offering emotional & practical support in                                                           Victim Support                             the community to victims following a crime: 


  • Witness Service provided by Citizens' Advice provides pre-court                                                Witness Service

        familiarisation visits & supports victims/witnesses when attending court:


NOTE: In some areas the above 2 services are run by other organisations

  • Other types of support may be available, such as:     ISVA  in cases of sexual violence      

                                                                                        IDVA in cases of domestic violence 

                                                                                        Special measures             


  • The CPS have 2 Victims’ Guides which outline what victims need to know/do at different stages, 

what support is available including special measures, the stages involved in building a criminal

case & going to a trial, one for rape & sexual assault victims and the other for all other victims

  • Reporting to the police & 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):                                                                                     

                                                                               BBK success stories        &       Survivors Stories


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WARNING: These 2 links are not suitable for anyone who might find reading/hearing about others experience of abuse distressing, triggering or re-traumatising.

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