It’s important to take the necessary safety precautions as a counsellor, especially when dealing with new patients. Acknowledging and recognising any risks of threatening behaviour could help keep you safe in the long run. This article will look at ways to keep you safe in your counselling job.

Screen potential patients

Choosing to become a counsellor often means that you enjoy helping people, giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. However, it’s good to remember that there are often cases that may not be suitable for your services.

The screening process allows you to understand your patient’s background before inviting them into your practice. This usually involves asking them if they have a history of violence or whether they are in possession of anything that could be used to harm themselves or others.

Screening for safety can ensure you’re not left feeling uncomfortable around a specific patient. Speak with your colleagues to determine how much risk you’re prepared to take on, and don’t offer your services to someone if you don’t feel safe.

Go to supervision

Supervision is a way of “checking in” with a counsellor to ensure they are not feeling overwhelmed or burdened with the issues of their patients. Dealing with other people’s problems on a daily basis can cause a lot of stress on the practitioner, and you may find it hard to remove yourself from these situations.

By taking regular visits to supervision and speaking to another professional about your experiences can help you distance yourself from your responsibilities, allowing you to ease the weight off and feel slightly more relaxed.

Protecting yourself

Reassure yourself that your office is a safe space by removing anything sharp, dangerous or that could be used as a weapon by your patient.

Having a secure place inside your practice can be beneficial, should you need to hide or call for help. Knowing where the nearest exits are also offers you an added contingency.

Be sure to install locks on your doors, cupboards and drawers to prevent theft. Ensure that digital patient files are securely stored on a device that has high level security in order to reduce the risk of data links and breaches of confidentiality. Having insurance for therapists could also offer added protection to your practice should a breach occur.

Installing security

Most patients shouldn’t pose any risk or physical threat to you, but it’s important to be prepared and ensure your office practices comply to high levels of security, helping to reduce the likelihood of any potential incidents.

Having CCTV installed in your office can provide you with reassurance that should anything happen, it would all be captured on camera. Keeping automatic locks on your door and using furniture that is secured to the floor can remove the threat of anything being thrown around.