The therapist's personal safety and care in the workplace
Sally Despenser
3 hours
7 sections

The module is relevant to all stages of a counselling/psychotherapy career, and is aimed at

  • counsellors/psychotherapists
  • supervisors
  • trainers
  • course providers
  • placement officers
  • managers and employers in the statutory and voluntary sectors, health and other settings
  • those in private practice
  • those seeking online CPD validation.

It should be noted that sections 4,5 & 6 draw upon psychodynamic theory but that the personal experiences represent a diverse range of modalities.

The module focuses on the safety of thetherapist (both physical and psychological), in a variety of settings.You willconsider a range of risk factors and how to assess them, andthenreflect upon why individuals and organisations apparently continue to deny risk.The therapist's options when deciding not to work with a client will also be considered, together withsome possible consequences. Finally, bearing in mind the emotional toll of working as a therapist, the module ends with some tips for self care.


"Great course" -

"This module gave me the opportunity to look at and review my own safety in the workplace." -

"Excellent thought provoking and has reminded me how important my safety and well-being is." -

"This has been an excellent and thought provoking course. Well worth doing before going into private practice " -

"I found this course very useful - some of the areas of safety had came up for me previously whereas others hadnt and some I had not expected. I spent quite a few hours completing this course, longer than I had initially anticpated although glad I did it. Has certainly provoded me with food for thought and also emphasises the huge importance of our own self care." -

"I found this to be a very useful course and very thoughtfully set out. I would recommend this course for all those in private practice and working in organisations. Students would also benefit greatly from the content. " -

"I am amazed at how when invited to see myself as important I have explored areas of private practise that I have previously shyed away from,It will never happen to me syndrome." -

"Enjoyed taking this course as I could spend as much time as I needed to complete it. It has helped me think about my whole safety aspect again within my setting and my client base. It has been easy to understand. There are dangers to be aware of and it has showed me that I may have to make organisations more aware that they need to be addressing this issue." - Pam Thomson

"I have found this course extremly useful and insightful around risk to the therapist as it is not always a welcome topic in meetings however working through this has re-awakened thoughts and concerns around meeting clients with no prior contact face to face (admin book in appointments for staff) so first therapist contact is when I arrive at the initial assessment appointments. This is an area I will be feeding back to colleagues and thinking about more. Thank you!" -

"Online CPD is a new experience... I found it thorough and thought provoking. I missed discussions that can arise during training but there were many opportunities for reflections and these prompted me to think more deeply about my personal situation and that has been very helpful. " - JB

"A very useful interesting informative and reflective course. It reminded me of how important my own safety is Marie Jones" - Marie Jones

"This course was excellent as it confirmed my strong thoughts on boundaries and setting and keeping to them, which has come about through various experiences over the years. It raises the responsibility of informing employers about these issues and making sure they understand and comprehend them. It is the duty of the counsellor to go to the employer and not expect the employer to have an automatic understanding of this specialised area." - Claire Kilburn-Young

"Excellent course. This really made me reflect on my own personal safety as a therapist and to understand that even experienced therapists need to refer some clients on." -

"A useful piece of learning that allowed me to consider my own working practice with regard to safety. Easy to flip back and to between sections to ponder on previous material with useful summary sections for own notes. Would recommend" - K Parkin

"This is the first CPD/online learning course I have done and I found it most useful and very thought provoking." -

"This is my first online CPR. I was very impressed by the quality and guidance as I made my way through the programme. It has raised awareness in terms of security." -

"This has been an excellent learning experience both the on line method - which suits me well ( at my pace). More so the content has given me a robust framework to base decisions around safety and risk. The personnel material - considering me as a therapist and why I may be acting in certain ways has also been invaluable. " - Alison Peters

"After 13+ years experience in various settings, I found this to be a very insightful and meaningful workshop on the subject of safety. I have a rule about never operating a private practice from home. " -

"This was a really thought provoking course. It reached deep into the subject." -

"A very useful and thought provoking module which has led to action in my workplace regardring consideration of risk and how to respond." - Jill Cavellec

"This course has helped to raise further awareness of my safety in private practice. When asked to think from an organisational perspective, I found it useful to think about me as a Counselling Centre Manager and what policies/procedures I might put in place to protect the Staff Counsellors ie. me. I will continue working on the area of safety by self-reflection and discussion with my supervisor." - Private Practice Counsellor and Supervisor.

"I thought this module was very thorough and I enjoyed the learning and depth. i think it helped me to consolidate my own thinking and knowledge and that gained through my experience over the last few years. Thank you." - Dawn Allison.

"Very helpful and thought provoking" -

"Excellent for reflective thinking on own practice." -

"I have found this online course very informative and it has given me many things to think about in terms of my private work and agency work. Its also helped me to reflect upon the referral process and how you might manage this in the most effective way. Its also been helpful to note down my own action plan with regards to safety and self care. " - Vicky

"It was good opportunity to reflect and re-consider on many important issues. The settings seem to be set to american spelling rather than English (highlighting recognise for example?) which is rather annoying." -

"Extremely helpful and informative course which I would recommend to others." -

"I have enjoyed this course for the content as it has enabled me to reflect upon my practice and the need to make my own personal safety a priority. I feel that being able to work through the course at my own pace has been helpful as I have been able to take time to reflect about the issues. " -

"Excellent module, I found it extremely helpful for my own private practice." - Madeleine Rollason

"This course really made me think about how safe I really feel within my private practice and if this is the setting I wish to be practising in. Vignette and examples really provoke feelings and offer challenge. Self care list was a lovely way to end the course and the actionplan will prove invaluable moving forwards. " -

"It was really useful to think in detail about issues of safety. the only thing that I found a little difficult was the psychodynamic framework for understanding and assessing, as some of these things simply have no place in my own approach. However it has been useful and interesting." -

"First time I have done any of the on-line CPD. I found it very imformative and made me think about the way I work within my agency. Also a good reminder not to get complacent!!" - Sue

"Everyone should do this course every three years or so. It highlights the difficult positons we can find ourselves in as counsellors. We must not isolate ourselves and feel that we can or must deal with everything ourselves. Use good colleague support and fight for better conditions for the hard work we do that can seem invisible to society." - Fiona

"This has been very thought provoking. I am fortunate in that my employer (Local Government) pays much attention to safety and risk issues and I have excellent supervision but it has also reminded me to check out some things, specifically at my venue. The course comes very much from a psychodynamic perspective, which is not my model of counselling. There were aspects of psychodynamic terminology that were not helpful to me. " -

"This module has allowed me to think about the different factors involved in taking on private clients. It has also made me more aware of potential risks in working in an office setting and thinking more about risk assessing not only the client but the setting. I am more aware of these things now and feel that ongoing learning and reading and experience as a counsellor will continue that journey for me." - Kathy Jaloussis

"I found this course very useful and thought provoking." -

"Excellent. thought-inducing course. Content well laid-out with useful vignettes to illustrate potential scenarios." -

"Excellent, very thought provoking, left me with a lot to think about as both a manager and as a practitioner." -

"This course was very useful. It made me really look at the hidden dangers that had not occurred to me previously when counselling. I was considering setting up my own practice , however I feel it would be probably safer to stay within an organisation for the time being. The course was informative but took longer than what I imagined it would." -

"Very good and thought provoking. I though more emphasis could of been put on the assessment as an initial meeting for the client and counsellor to see if it is appropriate to work together or if referral is more appropriate , I find that when clients realise this is an equal decision it offers more of an option for withdrawal by either party." -

"An enjoyable course which enabled room to reflect on areas of therapeutic work I have sometimes overlooked. It did take longer than the guide time, however as there is a save facility this meant that i could study in a flexible way." - R. Tinubu

"First time using cpd /online learning, I found the site easy to use and to navigate around." -

"I thoroughly enjoyed working through this course. I found it interesting and thought provoking. I also find the flexibility of internet learning hugely beneficial. One slight criticism is that it took me longer than the three hours specified." -

"Working through this course has been very helpful in reminding me of the inmportance of being aware of my vulnerability as a therapist in private practise. It has also given me a top up of recognising my responsibilty as a therapist is not only to my clients but to myself " -

"Very informative and thought-provoking. It was nice to focus on the safety of the therapist instead of the usual focus on client safety/risk management." - Lindsey Vernon

"Thank you. For me this confirms my thinking and has helped expand my mind as well. It also has made me mindful for future adventures" - Faye Olliffe

"Provided a really thought provoking opportunity to reassess my practice, especially as I am about to start seeing clients in private practice. Would reccomend to all counsellors / therapists irrespective of your experience." -

"Really enjoyed doing this module, alot to think about and very helpful in writing down my thoughts, feelings and reflections. I completed this course because it does affect my work as a counsellor and being safe is a top priority which should be taken very seriously by organisations, colleagues and supervisors. " - Kulwant Kaur

"very very useful. thank you" - Ana

"An excellent course. Would highly recommend it. And it does take about 3 hours whereas two of the previous ones I did took MUCH longer.. BACP please continue to provide more of these online courses." -

"A very helpful course; the first time I have used the on-line learning, and it will not be the last! I am in Private Practice and so now have an action plan for things I am going to do differently. It has increased my appreciation of the importance of noticing my own emotiional responses to a client, particularly during the first contact. It has also highlighted my own agendas!" - Claire

"It is a wonderful course. I feel it should be included in counselling courses." - Parvin Porhonar

"Great course on safety, beneficial" -

"Very thought provoking." - J Myring

"Helpful revision of self care and saftey, fully recommend this course." - Dee

"There is a lot of sound information in this course, concisely, clearly and thoughtfully presented. There is also a lot for the therapist to consider and reflect on in relation to themselves and their practice. Highly recommended for therapists at any stage in their career as it is valuable for initial learning and also for experienced therapists to review their practice." -

"This was a thought-provoking and interesting course. I will be more aware of the issues explored. " - Cheryl

"-This was a meaty-module & ook me far more than the 3 hrs stated!!! -I will be stating 6 hrs in my re-accreditation application!" - Robert A Slater.

"I found this course very useful, it reminded me to really consider my own safety when taking on new clients, especially in private practice. " -

"Really enjoyed this and has made me think about potential risk to myself a lot more. Once again I want a certificate though :) (its the over achiever in me)" -

"I found this CPD to be very useful and felt it highlighted and explored important factors relating to our safety as counsellors. Thank you." -

"My first experience of online learning in this format. The course was easy to follow, informative and thought provoking. It was fun and a convenient way to learn." - James Carrie

"Every therapist, whether working privately or within an institutionalised organisation, should complete this. Excellent and thought provoking." -

"I found this course to be very useful as I have recently started in private practice and can feel isolating at times. It has made me reflect on possibilities of working with clients alone in my annex and the importance of gut instincts and possible safety precautions in the future" -

"Excellent course which highlighted points on safety within private practice which I had not thought about. As a result, I have now made changes within my working environment " -

"Very useful course, articulately thinking about organisational anxieties." - Anita Worcester

"Excellent course and opportunity for reflection" -

"Very helpful course and made me reflect upon aspects of my practice I never considered before, and consolidated the knowledge I already had." -

"I would highly recommend this module to everyone. It covers a very important topic which is not always part of training or adequately prioritised by organisations." -

"Very thought provoking, however some of the examples were not about qualified counsellors, and I am not a trainee. A few more examples relevant to experienced practitioners would be good. " -

"Great refresher to remind therapists the importance of their own safety as well as the client. " - Tegan

"This was an excellent course which made me reflect on my own practice." -

"I found this extremely helpful - in particular because I have gone from working with many colleagues into isolation working in private practice. I will continue to be vigilant and now feel better equipped and more self aware. I will ensure I take doubts to supervision." -

"I have really enjoyed working through this module and have found much of this helpful with my own working practice. Some of this i have already taken to supervision and shared with the other counsellors. " - Amanda Brown

"The course was very helpful to challenge me to examine my setting and my internal self. Thank you" -

"Brilliant" -

"There were some good ideas to consider in risk assessment and declining working with a client. However, it was too weighted on psychodynamic theory for me and personally made it a bit heavy to reflect on & digest. More varied examples of risky situations would have made it more interesting. The self-care was quite brief & basic. " -

"I really enjoyed this course, which has some very important points in relation to our therapeutic role. Role of the therapist is demanding and requires a huge amount of psychological strength. This course highlights a very good aspects of self care in the role of Therapist." - M Dvonc

"I enjoyed this course very much. It brought home to me how crucial it is to be safe in this type of work. I was particularly impacted upon by the potential risk that can come from therapists not being authentic with what is going on for them. Trying to be the perfect therapist: not admitting their own limitations and denying feelings and alerts can prove costly, in terms of own safety. I particularly liked the information on referring on, which seemed sensible and gave me confidence on how to do this if the situation ever arises. Thank you" - Linda Rodgers MBACP (Accred)

"My first on-line learning experience. Really enjoyed the course and being able to dip in and out of it. So helpful to consider all of the issues raised and has prompted me to think more about self-care." -

"I felt that this course was extremely informative and has been very valuable to me - a young female therapist having recently established a private practice. I have found it more useful that someone just saying that private practice is a "bad idea", or displaying their reservations about the safety of the therapist in private practice. This course has provided education on the potential pitfalls (as there are with anything we do), and I especially liked and related to the module on analysing our own unconscious motivations, and therefore dangers. I feel confident in making choices about who I see and where I see them." - Christina Poynts

"Even though I consider myself to be an experienced therapist this has been a very useful reminder of the perils and pitfalls which can come about in client work. It has helped me be more structured in how I assess for risk, how I would go about referring on and some useful pointers around self-care. Many thanks." - Martin

"Fantastic thought-provoking and well-written e-learning course. Helpful as I embark upon setting up my own private practice" - Suzanne

"I have found this course to be very informative and it helped me to think about other aspects of my safety that I had not thought about previously. Fantastic course. " - Patricia lindsay

"Well-designed and covers multiple aspects of risk clearly. Suitable for practitioners at every level. Informative and thought-provoking. Every placement agency would be well advised to undertake this!" -

"Useful - bringing into awareness things you may not think about. Good pace and useful information." -

"This course was very thought provoking and has made me look at my own private practice working arrangements more carefully." -

"Well that was excellent! Worth every penny and opens up awareness. We can become complacent and this course takes your head out of the sand so you can see clearer. It also strengthens ones faith in listening to yourself and the alarm calls within. I recommend it for all therapists." -

"Excellent course." - Susan Orr.

"Another thought provoking course with good information, insight and space for reflection. It made me think and question my own roles and skills within my own work. I would still like to be able to print off a CPD certificate to keep for my records though." - Ellie

"I thoroughly enjoyed this topic and it has really opened by eyes. One of my previous roles was a manager in a counselling service and I always put risk assessments in place. The cases detailed though have given me food for thought - I would and have recommended this learning for others. Well done BACP - good job done!" - Claire Tyler

"enjoyable good opportunity to reflect on practice and strengthen practice to improve our own safety" -

"I really liked his course and as a new counsellor this helped me to reflect and gain insight into safety issues practically, physically and emotionally and how to manage risk and personal needs." - Lisa Taylor

"I was a little nervous about doing this on line training as it was my first one and on line working is not my strengths. However it was very simple to move through each section and I found it extremely interesting and thought provoking, I found it very worthwhile as a professional working in private practise. Thank you ." -

"This has been really useful for raising my awareness of the risks, both physical and psychological, that client work may pose, and how important it is to value and plan for, my own safety as a therapist." - Rachel Dickinson

"helpful information" -

"I found this course to be extremely helpful especially as I work from home in my own private practice. I also found this course to be very thought provoking. I have learnt a lot by completing this course which has helped me to see the wider picture. Thank you Best wishes Kathy Robson" -

"This was a very interesting, thought-provoking and educational course. A chapter on HOW you tell the client you have decided not to work with them would have been a helpful addition to the course. Thank you. " - Izzy Connolly

"Very mind opening and objective material to consider and comment on. Extremely helpful." - Julie Shaw

"This course really highlighted the need to be aware of potential threats, safety of therapist not to be compromised to suit client. Certainly showed me areas for private practice that I might not have come across in the settings that I work in/have worked in. " -

"Excellent course really made me think and reminded me how important personal safety is in our work" -

"I found the course of great interest and has given me a sound basis to begin to make my own practice and those I manage safer. The course took me many more hours than the allotted CPD time suggested, but I think I made good use of the time to reflect and take my thinking further" -

"This course help me to realized how importance it is to be able assess risky clients before decided to work with them. By being aware of the client current state and others will help me reduce risk in my own setting and for myself. " - Wiyada

"Very good course, great for generating thoughts and reflection on practice- although referring to what is on the next page before the comments or thoughts box for the current page can be a little distracting. It may be worth linking the next page after the comments box. " -

"Really opened my eyes and reminded me of what we had been taught very early in our training." - sarah

"A really in depth, 360O perspective of a therapists safety with lots of space to reflect on own competence, work and placement policies. Really useful tools to enable self appraisal. I have found significant number of ideas that I can take back to my settings and initiate. More please!!! " -

"Very thought provoking. I will continue to look at these matters in supervision. I will recommend the course to my colleagues." - David Seddon

"An enjoyable course which had as its focus an area which is not always in the forefront of work as a therapist. Those in private practice will note the dangers and advantages of their work setting while those who work for institutions will also be able to reflect more fully on their own needs within the institution." -

"I am in my first year of PG Counselling Diploma and have previously done a BA Hons Degree in Counselling and Psychology. I am just about to begin my placement. Although this module may have been more useful especially when giving personal examples if I was more experienced I still found it very useful. It definitely gave me a lot to think about for when I start my placement next month and I will go back over this module. Fantastic CPD especially for the cost. Very helpful and informative. " - Samantha

"excellent, very thought provoking and has encouraged me to rethink work setting. referrals, organizational attitudes and self care an exercise well worth doing!" -

"Great CPD - good to be able to work through the modules at my own pace and in my own time" -

"I have found this module invaluable. As with some of the other modules, what I thought might be a paper exercise in terms of feeling like I had already reflected on these issues quite a lot previously, actually turned out to be really thought-provoking & stimulated a lot of self-reflection, insights & really helpful action plans. As a returner to practice following a career-break it has brought alive important issues around safety, but I also feel it contains essential questions for all therapists, particularly those who work in freelance/private practice, and I would definitely recommend it to colleagues & friends." -

"I have found this module invaluable. As with some of the other modules, what I thought might be a paper exercise in terms of feeling like I had already reflected on these issues quite a lot previously, actually turned out to be really thought-provoking & stimulated a lot of self-reflection, insights & really helpful action plans. As a returner to practice following a career-break it has brought alive important issues around safety, but I also feel it contains essential questions for all therapists, particularly those who work in freelance/private practice, and I would definitely recommend it to colleagues & friends." -

"I have found this module invaluable. As with some of the other modules, what I thought might be a paper exercise in terms of feeling like I had already reflected on these issues quite a lot previously, actually turned out to be really thought-provoking & stimulated a lot of self-reflection, insights & really helpful action plans. As a returner to practice following a career-break it has brought alive important issues around safety, but I also feel it contains essential questions for all therapists, particularly those who work in freelance/private practice, and I would definitely recommend it to colleagues & friends." -

"I really enjoyed doing this online CPD. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own practice, that of the agency in which I work and think hard about what I need to do to ensure my own wellbeing." -

"Great refresher course. Thank you" -

"A module that was far more of a challenge than I first thought it would be. And therefore one which was very useful " -

"Really enjoyed this course, gave me some really useful tips regarding my safety as a therapist and made me re-think how I approach seeing clients in private practice for the first time. Highly recommend. " -

"I think this is an extremely well considered and detailed module that should be taken by all counsellors whether in an institution setting or working in private practice" -

"Really useful to give lots of food for thought. Quite heavy on the psychodynamic perspective which I liked, but wonder if it could alienate others? Woulve been useful if it had recorded how many hours i did for cpd referending! Overall very informative, useful. i will definatley reccomend." -

"Good food for thought and practical help" -

"This course was fantastic and well worth the 10 admission fee. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It made me think more about my own safety as a counsellor as-well as ensuring the safety and well being of the client. The recommended time for completing the course was 3 hours. I feel however that to gain the very best from this course and to reflect and make notes it takes substantially longer. Many thanks to all who helped put this course together. I am looking forward to enrolling on the other courses during next year, Best wishes to all at BACP, Happy Christmas" -

"The course was very thorough and the content appropriate for the medium. It offered some useful points for reflection. " -

"This is a thought-provoking course which has caused me to reconsider a number of safety factors regarding my practice." -

"This is the first BACP: cpd /online learning module I have completed. I found it really helpful, stimulating and rewarding.I feel it has enhanced my confidence to practice. Although I have worked through it alone I found it supportive through shared experiences. I will definitely try some more BACP online learning modules. " -

"A really helpful approach to assessing professional remit and responsibilities surrounding personal and professional safety." -

"I found the coverage of this topic comprehensive and thought-provoking. Thank you" -

"I thought this was a very good course. It made me think about the issues. The vignette and other examples assisted in this as well as the use of tables and lists of points. The content is valid but so easily overlooked. My one criticism would be that the material on projection could have been clearer. Use of pronouns in quotes and by the course author sometimes confuses and - especially for those therapists not of a psychodynamic background - leaves the reader unsure in practical terms of what projection actually looks like and how to differentiate it from other tendencies. Thanks." -

"Again very informative and compact." -

"This is a very thought provoking module. Section on Projective Identification is current. Excellent. " -

"I have found this course enlightening and very much needed in order to remain safe whilst working with clients. I feel that risk is not covered enough whilst in training to prepare you once qualified." -

"I thoroughly enjoyed working through this course. I found it informative and useful and it has prompted me to think, not just about my persona safety, but also about self care." -

"I found the course very useful and enjoyable and it made me think about my own safety when working with clients and I now feel better equipped to deal with issues should they occur" -

"Useful reminders of all the things we need to be aware of when working with clients and in other settings as well. " -

"I really got a lot out of this course. I was asked to think hard about myself and my own unconscious drives. I was able to reflect on this and I came to startling conclusions. I also assess clients for others to work with and this set me in mind of how to think more about their safety than just competence. I was made aware of other situations where danger can come from. last, I was impressed how the course made me think about containment and organisational omnipotence. excellent course and very well put together." -

"I really enjoyed completing this module as my very first one. It took me longer than expected as it was my first ever online learning. However now I feel enthused to keep going. Many thanks" -

"I found the course very interesting and thought provoking. Within the context of my current working environment, I feel largely quite protected, however, after completing the course I am even more mindful about my own safety/ potential risk. " -

"Re-evaluation comes to mind. A lot to re-address and be aware of again. Private practice is remote, lonely and risky. " -

"i really enjoyed this CPD. i work within a setting so this has given me lots to think about and take to my manager to discuss. this has also raised my level of awareness for when i start to work in private practice. i enjoyed the party about instutional denial ths opend my mind up to previous work nsettings and how i can challnge workin conditions moving forward. " -

"This module has been fantastic. It has been a great refresher but has also given me food for thought. I highly recommend this module to anybody who is in any form of psychotherapeutic practice. " -

"Is there any way I can have evidence that I completed this course?" -

"Excellent course! Thoroughly detailed and well-presented. Easy to follow and thought-provoking, challenging. I would recommend. Very, very helpful to practice. Many thanks to the author." -

"Very thought provoking and comprehensive course. Thank you" -

"This course took much longer to complete than advertised for me as a screen reader user. I have enjoyed the content of the course and have found it useful to consider my own practice and potential changes." -