All counsellors will work to ethical guidelines as set out by their professional body. These guidelines are set out to keep both the client and the counsellor safe within working practice. A working agreement will document some of the ethical and legislative requirements of the counsellor in relation to their therapeutic work in a contract. This may be the requirement for supervision and continual professional Development. A working agreement or contract will also consider legislative requirement surrounding confidentiality and limits to this, in terms of when confidentiality must be breached. The recording of sessions will also be discussed, documented and agreed to under contract. Further practical elements of the therapeutic sessions will be detailed such as cost, sessional length, missed sessions and holiday notice. The working agreement may also encompass further elements than just the contract such as a treatment plan or commitments to behaviour such as a non-suicide agreement or agreements about conduct outside of the counselling setting. The detailing of these elements in a working agreement is important for many reasons. Not only does it boundary and make sessions feel safe, it alleviates any uncertainty of client and counsellor expectations within the therapeutic alliance. In signing a contract or working agreement, both the client and counsellor are making a legal commitment to honour the agreement. This encourages trust and a solid foundation towards the therapeutic relationship. A working agreement is also a physical document that can be reflected upon at any time to solidify any uncertainty. Contracts and working agreements also offer the client the opportunity to take responsibility and to act autonomously. Clients discussing contractual obligations are invited to operate from an Adult ego state, which could be the first steps in building self esteem and autonomous decision making alongside rapport with the counsellor. Without a working agreement, clients are less likely to commit to their process or to feel valued by the counsellor.


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