Placement Handbook: 299 Goldhawk Road
Headstrong Counselling is a Community Interest Company, founded under the Companies Act, using a special statute designed for social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.
The Hammersmith & Fulham community benefits by being able to access low-cost, short and long-term counselling. Headstrong Counselling focuses on individuals with a range of mild to moderate mental health difficulties, who are unable to access private counselling for affordability or other reasons, or are on the waiting list to receive NHS counselling. Headstrong Counselling offers one-to-one 50-minute, weekly counselling sessions, group counselling and couples counselling.
The cost for the clients is based on a scale, depending upon their personal financial and family situation. The fees range between 15£ and 25£.
Headstrong Counselling offers the following therapies:
Psychodynamic Therapy: An effective therapy for a range of mild to complex psychological difficulties, particularly those that can impact on relationships, depression, anxiety, post traumatic difficulties, couple difficulties, and personality difficulties.
Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: A talking therapy that can help manage problems by changing the way we think and behave. It is commonly used to treat anxiety and depression, but can be useful for other mental and physical health conditions.
Trans-diagnostic Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy: A specific treatment of 8-12 sessions beneficial for individuals with co-occurring anxiety and depressive difficulties and anxiety diagnoses such as anxiety disorder.
Existential Therapy: The primary aim of existential therapy is to help people face anxieties of life, to find meaning and to live fully in the present. Existential therapy is well suited to those facing issues of existence, for example, those with a terminal illness, those contemplating suicide, or transition in their life.
Dynamic Interpersonal Therapy: A short-term,16 sessions, individual therapy protocol for mood disorders. It is specifically designed to address presenting symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Person-Centered Therapy: A non-authoritative approach where the therapist acts as a compassionate facilitator, listening without judgment and acknowledging the person’s experience.
Couples Counselling: A talking therapy designed for couples to discuss their thoughts, feelings and behaviours within their relationship.
Equal Opportunities Policy
It is the policy of Headstrong Counselling to ensure that no job applicant, employee, or trainee volunteer counsellor receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of gender, gender identification, race, marital status, disability, age, sexual orientation or religion, or is disadvantaged by conditions or requirements that cannot be shown to be justifiable. The organisation is committed not only to its legal obligations but also to the positive promotion of equality of opportunity in all aspects of employment and volunteering.
The organisation recognises that adhering to the Equal Opportunities Policy, combined with relevant employment policies and practices, maximises the effective use of individuals in both the organisation’s, employees´, and volunteer counsellors’ best interests. Headstrong Counselling recognises the great benefits in having a diverse workforce and cohort of volunteer counsellors with different backgrounds.
The application of recruitment, training, and promotion policies to all individuals will be on the basis of role requirements and the individual’s ability and merits. All employees and volunteers of the organisation will be made aware of the provisions of this policy. Headstrong Counselling emphasises that discrimination is unacceptable conduct which may lead to termination of placement.
Headstrong Counselling will put in place any reasonable measures and/or adjustments within the workplace for those individuals experiencing disability, visible or invisible.
All employees and volunteers will be encouraged to discuss their career prospects and training needs with the Clinical Service Manager.
Placements at Headstrong Counselling
This handbook guides you through the application process for a placement and an explanation of how the Headstrong Counselling service operates. To ensure stability for our clients and an opportunity for trainees to work with clients on both a long and short-term basis, a commitment of at least one year is required from anyone applying for a placement within the service, unless this has been agreed otherwise. Trainees are allocated a room slot, which is the same day and time every week, and are expected to work with a minimum of three clients. Senior trainees may be allocated longer time slots and will be able to work with up to six clients. Clients accessing Headstrong Counselling for low cost therapy are assessed by our clinical team prior to allocation to a trainee counsellor.
We use e-mail for much of our internal communication with counsellors, so we require our trainees to have access to e-mail on a regular basis. A headstrong email address will be provided to each trainee counsellor. We encourage counsellors to use a separate, non-personal, mobile number for client work.
We are an integrative service and take on trainees from a wide range of training institutions. We look for counsellors who are passionate about offering short and long-term mental health support to people in the community.
Headstrong Counselling Values Statement
These values are the essence of Headstrong Counselling’s identity and mission as a street clinic. Headstrong Counselling expects all its collaborators to adhere to these values.
1. Passion for the Mission.
Headstrong Counselling provides accessible, quality counselling.
2. Connectivity with the Community.
Headstrong Counselling is embedded within the local community.
3. Open Mind for Innovation.
Headstrong Counselling actively seeks to bring best available practice.
Headstrong Counselling offers high quality supervision for all volunteer counsellors to support and enhance their professional training.
Supervision is delivered through a 3-tier system:
● Clinical Line Management Supervision.
● Daily On-call Service.
● Clinical Supervision by an Internal Supervisor.
Supervision will vary according to each counsellor’s university requirements.
Daily On-call Service:
● Daily support, Monday to Thursday, for emergency intervention with the Senior Clinical Services Manager available for each counsellor.
● Counsellors can send a text any time to 07848010235, stating your requirement and we will then book in a short-call for containment/safeguarding.
Counsellors may practice according to their preferred therapeutic modality and trainee volunteer counsellors are encouraged to attend additional external supervision in order to meet the requirements of their training course.
If a trainee counsellor has any concerns, they must contact their Headstrong supervisor, the Director, or the Clinical Services Manager immediately. The Director of Headstrong Counselling, alongside the Clinical Services Manager will act as out of hours points of contact for emergencies and high-risk incidents.
Ongoing personal therapy is a requirement of the placement, the minimum being two hours per month. The personal therapy must be external to the placement.
To apply to Headstrong Counselling for a volunteer counsellor placement position, please complete the official volunteer counsellor application on the website. If you are selected to proceed with your application, we will invite you to attend an interview with the Director and Clinical Service Manager. This is a relatively informal process during which we will inquire about your therapeutic modality and experiences of therapy.
If successful at the interview you will be offered a placement, subject to two satisfactory references, a clear enhanced DBS check, and professional indemnity insurance. If your last DBS check was within 24 months of your application, you will not need to complete a new DBS check.
You will then be invited to attend an induction to prepare you to start in the service.
Placements at Headstrong Counselling are subject to a three-month probationary period. Within this period, both parties are able to terminate the contract. All trainees are assessed according to Headstrong’s competency chart.
Recording of Sessions
Many counsellors request to audio record sessions as part of their training requirements. Headstrong Counselling allows the audio recording of sessions, only if, the client agrees and provides written consent. The relevant form from your training institution will need to be signed by your client. We will require a copy of this form, alongside the specific information from your training organisation in regard to session recording management. It is imperative that recordings are held securely and destroyed or given to the client after they have been used. They must not be labelled or contain anything that will identify the client. Neither must any transcript.
Note: responsibility and GDPR compliance for the recordings lies with the counsellor and their training institution.
All volunteer trainee counsellors must enter brief and concise session notes into the Headstrong Counselling secure digital data storage system “Google G Suite”. This can be accessed with the email address and password given during induction. This system adheres to the GDPR guidelines and counsellors only have access to the notes and information of their own clients. The Director will act as admin and will have access to all client files. The Clinical Services Manager will conduct a monthly check to ensure the client notes are up-to-date. Counsellors must indicate, in the relevant section, whether the client attended the session, and enter the scores of any outcome measures the client completed that session. Counsellors will be responsible for entering client session notes, outcome measures, and attendance on the day of the counselling session. It is understood that the trainee counsellor may wish to keep process details for their work, but they should be kept separately and anonymously.
All counsellors must record their client attendance on the ‘Client Attendance Form’, on the day of placement, available on the website https://www.headstrongcounselling.co.uk/counsellors. Password: HFMind2019.
Clients are able to book assessments through the Headstrong Counselling website, where they will be directed to an online digital booking system. All assessments are charged at £20. The client may cancel or reschedule their assessment booking up to 24 hours in advance of the assessment for a full refund. Cancellations made within less than 24 hours will incur a full fee.
The client will attend an in-person, 50-minute assessment session at one of the Headstrong Counselling locations. The assessments may be conducted by an experienced trainee counsellor (following an assessment training offered by Headstrong Counselling), the Clinical Lead, or the Director.
During the assessment, each client will be asked to complete three brief measures: the PHQ9, GAD7 and CORE-10. Clients will be asked to provide their current GP contact details at the time of booking an assessment. Assessment will not take place without the appropriate GP information. The client’s GP will only be contacted if the client has indicated they will harm themselves or someone else. The client will be made aware of this policy. Clients will be asked to provide information on their current situation, current presenting issues and their background information.
Following an in-person assessment, the client will be allocated to the most suitable counsellor, depending on time and availability. If the assessment determines that the client needs a fully qualified counsellor, the Clinical Service Manager will inform the client and provide an appropriate referral.
All counsellors will be sent a completed assessment of the client through the secure internal system. If the counsellor is happy to take the client forward, the Clinical Service Manager or Director will contact the client and arrange the initial appointment. Provided there are no concerns, the Clinical Service Manager will give the go ahead for a second client to be added to the case load after approximately three weeks, a third client being added at around two months. The client caseload may be increased more quickly if the counsellor has extensive experience and/or is seen to be capable of undertaking more client work. This will be decided on a case-by-case exploration with the Clinical Service Manager and the Director.
Procedure with Clients
1. Arrive before client.
2. Prepare your room before the session start time.
3. Come up to greet clients on the hour and take them to the room.
a. If a client is late and has not given notice, wait downstairs or in the kitchen and listen for the bell or Blake will notify you when they arrive.
b. At Headstrong we operate under the notion that we keep the 50-minute session open for the client however late they arrive. They will have to pay full price. They may not overstay the previously agreed time slot.
c. If a client does not attend a session without giving prior warning they will still be expected to pay for the session.
4. Give your headstrong email to your clients and encourage them to use this as their point of contact to book any planned absences.
5. Remind your clients in the first session that they will have the same session time each week.
6. Issue client a CORE-10 at least every 4 sessions and upload the results onto your client notes in your google drive.
7. Remember to update your client note records regularly with a few sentences outlining the key points discussed in the notes section. If you have any questions about the note taking process do not hesitate to ask the Clinical Manager, or our Director.
8. Make sure to keep to the 50 minutes to avoid client overlap.
9. We encourage containing the work to the room, so try to avoid conversation with clients upon arrival and after the session has ended.
Goldhawk Road: Clients will be sent a payment link by email following their session.
If a client is unable to attend a counselling session, they must provide a 7-day notice to the counsellor. Cancellations made within less than 7 days will be charged at full cost. If the client is unable to attend 2 consecutive sessions, without letting their counsellor or the Headstrong Counselling service know, we may not be able to keep their time slot open, depending on the waiting list. In this case, the Clinical Service Manager will inform the client. We expect all counsellors to inform us when a client has missed 2 consecutive sessions without notice. Counsellors are also expected to update the client’s notes accordingly. If the client chooses to return to counselling at a later date, we will do our best to get them booked in with one of the counsellors. Clients may have to attend a second assessment session if more than 3 months have passed since their last contact date with the service.
On-Going work with Clients
The counsellor will be responsible for reaching a collaborative decision with the client regarding length of therapy. Counsellors may work with clients up to 48 sessions. This should be discussed with the supervisor and counsellors must inform the Clinical Service Manager regarding decided length of therapy.
If the counsellor feels that a referral is inappropriate because the client is manifesting behaviour or thought processes that indicate more specialist interventions are required, which are beyond the trainee’s competence. e.g. for active drug misuse, mental illness or specialist, intensive therapy, the counsellor needs to:
- Discuss this with their supervisor, and if the supervisor agrees, discuss with the client at the next session.
- Inform the Clinical Service Manager.
In exceptional cases, if the trainee counsellor is not comfortable doing this, the Clinical Service Manager will see the client and conduct an ending. An example of this may be if the trainee feels their personal wellbeing is compromised.
If the client decides to end their counselling the trainee counsellor needs to:
- Discuss this with their supervisor.
- Inform the Clinical Service Manager.
- Enter the appropriate session notes on the secure data storage system.
If it occurs that there is a client/counsellor mismatch and the client would like to continue counselling with a new trainee counsellor, the above procedure should be followed. The client notes will be reallocated to another counsellor, if appropriate. If this happens a second time, the Clinical Service Manager will meet with the client to ascertain what the issues are.
If the client approaches the Clinical Service Manager to change counsellor but has not spoken about it to the counsellor, they will normally be asked to go back to discuss the issue with the counsellor, if they feel able to. If not, the Clinical Service Manager will speak to the client and inform the counsellor.
If a client advises the counsellor they do not wish to take up counselling after all, counsellors need to do the following:
- Inform the Clinical Service Manager that the client has decided to terminate the counselling.
- Enter the appropriate client notes on the secure data storage system.
- Request to be put back on the availability list to be allocated a new client.
Fees are dependent on the client’s income. Counselling slots are costed at £15—£25. £15 is the lowest fee available and is only reserved for individuals receiving Disability Living Allowance, Income Support, Incapacity Benefits, or Jobseeker's Allowance. Individuals who are part-time employed or are part-time or full-time students are charged £20 per session. Individuals who are full-time employed will be charged £25 per session. Couples counselling is charged at £30 per session for two people.
If any client struggles with the fee, or has issues around payment, please inform the Director.
The assessor will inform the counsellor on the cost of the sessions. If the client’s circumstances change during the course of therapy, it is the counsellor’s responsibility to adjust the fees. This should be discussed with the Clinical Service Manager prior to a new fee arrangement.
Counsellors will be responsible for keeping track of client payments. If a client fails to pay the session fee on a consistent basis, counsellors must discuss this with the Director or the Clinical Service Manager.
Contact with the Client’s GP, Other Professionals or Emergency Services
Clients will be asked to provide their current GP contact details. Assessment and counselling sessions will not take place without the appropriate GP information. The client’s GP will only be contacted if the client has indicated they will harm themselves or someone else. Where possible, clients will be informed of contact with their GP prior to contact being established. We ask all counsellors to remind their clients of this policy at the initial counselling session.
Letters to GP’s or other professionals must be written under the guidance of the Clinical Service Manager. The Clinical Service Manager will contact the client’s GP or other professionals. Counsellors are in no instance to contact a client’s GP directly. In cases of an emergency, where the client or someone else is at high-risk, counsellors must dial ‘111’ and will be directed to the appropriate emergency services. If the counsellor is in need of additional support, the Clinical Service Manager and Director will act as out-of-hours points of contact. The counsellor must inform the Clinical Service Manager or Director when emergency services have been called.
Reports for Clients
According to GDPR, clients can request access to their counselling notes. If a client requests a report for court, or any other purpose, the Director or Clinical Services Manager will write a statement acknowledging the client is attending, or has attended counselling at Headstrong, outlining specific dates only. In such a report, Headstrong will not reveal or provide any further details.
Confidentiality is an integral part of the counselling services offered by Headstrong Counselling. All clients should be referred to by codenames or first names in external supervision. No client related information obtained from the assessment or counselling can be passed to a GP or anyone else, other than the external supervisor and the Clinical Service Manager and Director at Headstrong Counselling, without the clear written permission and co-operation of the client. There are very few exceptions to this (see BACP code of ethics) and these must be discussed fully with the Clinical Service Manager before any action is taken.
Absence and Holidays
Clients should be seen weekly and trainee counsellors should normally give at least one month’s notice of absences to the client. Counsellors must complete a Planned Absence Form for any absences. This form is available on the website https://www.headstrongcounselling.co.uk/counsellors Password: HFMind2019. Clients should not be taken on directly before taking leave, as this does not facilitate the development of a therapeutic alliance. If the trainee counsellor has concerns for ongoing clients during a planned absence, these should be raised with the Clinical Service Manager. Headstrong Counselling is not a crisis intervention service and the administration is not full time, so clients must be given the Samaritans helpline or emergency services number in case of a crisis. If a counsellor requires prolonged leave i.e. more than two weeks for any reason, a formal application must be made and permission sought from the Clinical Services Manager. The priority is that clients remain contained.
Counsellors must, under no circumstance, export client data outside the Headstrong domain and may not use their Headstrong email account for personal matters.
All counsellors must embed the following message into their out-of-office reply:
Thank you for your message. Please be aware that there may be a delay in my response, as I only have intermittent access to my emails. Depending on the nature of your message, you may also want to contact:
email@example.com [for non-urgent/ non-clinical matters]
Samaritans, 116 123 [if you urgently need to talk to someone]
West London Mental Health helpline, 0300 1234 244 [if you urgently need to talk to someone]
Your local A & E [if you urgently need to take action].
Ending with Clients
Counsellors are responsible for the client’s completion of the GAD-7, PHQ-9 and CORE-10 outcome measure at the end of the counselling contract. These must be entered into the secure digital data storage system.
Ending due to Counsellor Incapacity
If the counselling is abruptly ended due to any sudden serious/debilitating changes relating to the life of a counsellor, the client will be sent a priority appointment with the Clinical Services manager to discuss with the client what has happened and how the client wishes to go forward. A new counsellor will be found, if that is what the client wishes.
Changes in Circumstances
Counsellors must inform the Clinical Service Manager or Director of any changes in circumstances relating to the mutual agreement e.g. changing address, external supervisor, lowering frequency of external supervision, and ending personal therapy while still in training. The Clinical Services Manager will discuss such changes so that the counsellor continues to meet the Headstrong Counselling placement requirements.
Termination of Placement
Counsellors must provide 8 weeks’ notice if they intend to leave the service, to the Headstrong Counselling service and their clients. If the client is not ready to terminate counselling, the counsellor should discuss this with the Clinical Service Manager and refer the client back to the service for re-allocation. Trainee counsellors are welcome to continue their placement at Headstrong Counselling once their training is completed. Counsellors will not be allowed to see Headstrong Counselling clients privately upon termination of placement until a period of 6-months has passed.
Liaising with Training Institutions
Headstrong Counselling will liaise with the counsellor’s training institution regarding how to placement is going for the counsellor. If there is cause for concern regarding the counsellor’s behaviour on placement, we will notify the placement coordinator or the counsellor’s personal tutor.
Please ensure that only counsellors and clients with an appointment are let into the building.
We are not able to provide walk-in services.
For visitors without an appointment, please direct them to the numbers on the door for further guidance, or hand them a Headstrong Counselling leaflet if their enquiry is related to counselling.
For visitors requiring immediate assistance, the following support is available:
1. Samaritans 27/7 Help-Line: 116 123.
2. West London Mental Health NHS Trust 24/7 Helpline: 0300 1234 244
3. Advise the individual to go to their nearest A&E.
At 299 Goldhawk Road, counsellors will be provided with a handheld panic alarm.
When to use the panic alarm
The panic alarm is a device used to call others for help in the event that you require immediate support.
Before using the panic alarm, consider using one of the following methods to seek support:
Sending an email to an individual in the building who you know will alert others and come to assist you
Calling an individual in the building and disguising this call as a standard call when it’s a call for help.
Attracting attention by shouting or leaving the area to ask for help.
The panic alarm would be expected to be used in the following circumstances:
1. You feel at imminent risk of harm or threat from an individual using the building.
The panic alarm is not to be used if:
1. An individual using the building is being rude or is behaving inappropriately
2. An individual using the building is suffering a panic attack or other anxiety related emergency
3. An individual using the building is under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is not putting you in immediate risk of threat or harm.
Tell the person causing the incident that you are going to use the panic alarm and that the police will be called.
In the event that the alarm has been set off
All counsellors must leave their rooms and leave the building, taking any guests or clients with them. Counsellors will leave the building via the nearest exit as they would if the fire alarm has been called.
If the person who set off the alarm has left the building, they must notify the most senior staff member present and advise them of the reason they set off the alarm.
If an individual does not present themselves as the person who set the alarm, the most senior staff member must use a combination of the visitors log and conversations with those present to discern if everyone has left the building. If someone has signed into the building and is not present, it must be assumed that they are in the building. The most senior staff member will then wait for the police to arrive.
At 299 Goldhawk Road, counsellors must call the Director at 07848010235.
If you hear the fire alarm, please evacuate the building immediately. There is ‘fire safety procedure’ literature dotted around the building. Please familiarise yourself with the guidance.
Key Contact Numbers
Anne-Sophie Bammens: 07848010235
West London NHS Trust: 0300 1234 244 (when client expresses they may harm themselves or others when leaving the building).
Emergencies: 999 (for medical emergencies or immediate threats) or 111 (when client expresses they will harm themselves or others when leaving the building).
Counsellors are encouraged to express their individuality in clothing style. However, it is expected that counsellors maintain a professional standard of dress which equates with their role, at all times while at placement. We maintain the right to ask counsellors to change their manner of dress if it is offensive or does befit professional status.
Headstrong Counselling is insured with Howden for Public Liability and Professional Indemnity. The policy number is available upon request.
1. ABOUT THIS PROCEDURE
1.1 This procedure is intended to help maintain standards of conduct and performance and to ensure fairness and consistency when dealing with allegations of misconduct or poor performance.
1.2 Minor conduct or performance issues can usually be resolved informally with your line manager. This procedure sets out formal steps to be taken if the matter is more serious or cannot be resolved informally.
1.3 This procedure applies to all employees and volunteers subsequent a three-month probationary period. Within the three-month probationary period, Headstrong maintains the right to terminate voluntary student placements.
1.4 This procedure does not form part of any employee’s or volunteer’s contract of employment and we may amend it at any time.
2.1 Before any disciplinary hearing is held, the matter will be investigated. Any meetings and discussions as part of an investigation are solely for the purpose of fact-finding and no disciplinary action will be taken without a hearing.
2.2 In some cases of alleged misconduct, we may need to suspend you from work while we carry out the investigation or disciplinary procedure (or both). While suspended, you should not visit our premises or contact any of our clients, or staff, unless authorised to do so. Suspension is not considered to be a disciplinary action.
3. THE HEARING
3.1 We will give you notice of the hearing, including sufficient information about the alleged misconduct or poor performance and its possible consequences to enable you to prepare. You will normally be given copies of relevant documents and witness statements.
3.2 You may be accompanied at the hearing by a placement coordinator or a colleague.
3.3 You should let us know as early as possible if there are any relevant witnesses you would like to attend the hearing or any documents or other evidence you wish to be considered.
3.4 We will inform you in writing of our decision, usually within one week of the hearing.
4. DISCIPLINARY ACTION AND DISMISSAL
4.1 The usual penalties for misconduct or poor performance are:
(a) Stage 1: First written warning. Where there are no other active written warnings on your disciplinary record, you will usually receive a first written warning. It will usually remain active for three months. During this time, the counsellor or staff member may be placed on a three-month probationary period.
(b) Stage 2: Final written warning. In case of further misconduct or failure to improve where there is an active first written warning on your record, you will usually receive a final written warning. This may also be used without a first written warning for serious cases of misconduct or poor performance. The warning will usually remain active for 12 months.
(c) Stage 3: Dismissal or other action. You may be dismissed for further misconduct or failure to improve where there is an active final written warning on your record, or for any act of gross misconduct. Examples of gross misconduct are breaches of the standards of conduct, performance and ethics, as laid out in the Headstrong Handbook, BACP standard of conduct, and HCPC standards of conduct. Other examples are given below (Paragraph 6). You may also be dismissed without a warning for any act of misconduct or unsatisfactory performance during your probationary period.
We may consider notifying your university, the British Psychological Society (BPS), the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) or the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) in cases of gross misconduct.
5.1 You may appeal in writing within one week of being told of the decision.
5.2 The appeal hearing will, where possible, be held by someone other than the person who held the original hearing. You may bring a colleague or placement coordinator with you to the appeal hearing.
5.3 We will inform you in writing of our final decision as soon as possible, usually within one week of the appeal hearing. There is no further right of appeal.
6. GROSS MISCONDUCT
6.1 Gross misconduct will usually result in dismissal without warning, with no notice or payment in lieu of notice.
6.2 The following are examples of matters that are normally regarded as gross misconduct:
(a) theft or fraud;
(b) physical violence or bullying;
(c) deliberate and serious damage to property;
(d) serious misuse of the organisation’s property or name;
(e) deliberately accessing internet sites containing offensive or obscene material;
(f) serious insubordination;
(g) unlawful discrimination or harassment;
(h) bringing the organisation into serious disrepute;
(i) serious incapability at work brought on by alcohol or illegal drugs;
(j) causing loss, damage or injury through serious negligence;
(k) a serious breach of health and safety rules;
(l) a serious breach of confidentiality.
(m) serious concerns communicated by clients as to the behaviour of the counsellor.
This list is intended as a guide and is not exhaustive.