Help! What do I need to do now? Tricky situations and ethical dilemmas in Private Practice (and how to handle them)

This year’s Private Practice conference has been developed by Private Practice committee members (who all work in private practice) in collaboration with BACP and will explore some of the most difficult problems that can emerge for therapists of all modalities.  

From ethical dilemmas, where there seems to be no obvious answer, to the kind of unexpected crisis that can prove overwhelming, such as the death of a client by suicide, the threat of stalking or harassment, a legal request for your patient notes or a complaint of malpractice. We’ll also look at areas that therapists – and supervisors - may struggle with, including finding effective ways to discuss the race construct, racism and difference. For the very first time the conference will also include a live panel discussion to explore ethical dilemmas and questions submitted by attendees. 

The Private Practice Conference presents an opportunity for members to come together for this highlight in the BACP annual calendar. It will once again be a hybrid event, combining networking opportunities of the live event aa central London conference venue, with the nationwide participation through the live streaming of the full event on the day.

Book your place

The Private Practice conference 2024 is a hybrid event. Our hybrid events provide you with the opportunity to attend and engage both in person and online. In person attendance includes networking opportunities, lunch, refreshments and the chance to engage with divisional representatives and BACP staff. Online access includes interactive Q&A's, a chatroom to network with peers, and interactive polls.


Click on the sessions to find out more. If you are viewing this page on a mobile, rotate your screen to view the programme.


Strand 1


In person and online

Strand 2


In person and online

Strand 3


In person only

9.00 – 9.45am  Registration
9.45 - 10.00am Networking
10.00 – 10.30am Event welcome
10.30 – 11.40am Keynote presentation: Working with suicidal clients as a private practitioner: challenges and opportunities, presented by Andrew Reeves
11.40 - 12.00pm Break
12.00 – 1.10pm 

Connecting with the other, presented by Matthew Johnston

 Presentation title to be confirmed, presented by Susie Jamieson

Legal note keeping presentation, presenter to be confirmed

1.10 – 2.10pm  Lunch break
2.10 – 3.20pm  Ruptures and repairs presentation, presenter to be confirmed Safety and stalking presentation, presenter to be confirmed

Ethical dilemma panel, presented by Gabriel Wynn, Tina Williams, Indu Khurana and Andrew Reeves

3.20 – 3.50pm Break

3.50pm – 4.50pm

Keynote presentation: The practitioner who survives and thrives, presented by Anne Power

4.50 – 5.00pm

Plenary and event close




This programme is subject to change.

Sponsors and exhibitors

Keynote session information

Working with suicidal clients as a private practitioner: challenges and opportunities

The aims of this session are to talk through the challenges and opportunities of working with clients at risk of suicide in a private practice setting.  Being able to: create a safe space where suicidal thoughts can be therapeutically explored; work effectively within contractual and ethical requirements; holding good practice at the centre; and paying attention to self-care are all critical aspects of our work.  While working with risk in private practice can feel daunting and scary, it can also provide meaningful therapeutic opportuties for clients that might not always be encountered in organisational settings. 

This session will aim to unpack what is meant by good practice, drawing on key documents from organisations like the Royal College of Psychiatrists, NICE and BACP.  It will additionally aim to help private practitioners think about the macro aspects of their work (practice statements, recording keeping and the management of confidentiality, for example), as well as the micro aspects (talking about suicide, therapeutic exploration and holding risk as a relational process). It fundamentally will aim to help you leave the session with more confidence in working with your clients in this important aspect of human experience.

This session is available in person and online as part of strand one.

The practitioner who survives and thrives

This session aims for participants to leave the conference encouraged, reflective and considering actions which could enhance their readiness for meeting challenges. Anne's talk will build on earlier presentations and focus on these questions:

  • How we can prepare for the falling rocks which may come our way?
  • How can we identify and develop our own best coping mechanisms for stresses?
  • What helps us convert challenge into learning and growth?

The presentation will outline how attachment behaviours can be triggered by fear and how knowing our own attachment patterns can help us manage our reactions. Looking at self-regulation and regulation through relationships and connection. Using understanding from attachment theory the presentation look at how safety enables learning, how having a safe haven allows recovery from fear and how a secure base allows our re-entry into the world. The role of partners, friends, supervisors (peer and paid), colleagues, therapists and pets will all be considered along with the self-help strategies which can restore emotional safety.

Reflection on our preparedness for meeting challenge, on the value of work-life balance and the importance of having a reserve of energy and commitment so that if we are hit by falling rocks, these do not find us running on empty.

This session is available in person and online as part of strand one.

Workshop session information

Connecting with the other

The session will focus on developing a practically useful perspective for white practitioners who wish to develop their ability to effectively work cross culturally with BAME clients. Using Matthew's own perspective as a Black person and psychotherapist, the presentation will share the experiences of clients that have come from previously having white therapists and observations throughout Matthew's career.

Matthew aims to respond to those white practitioners who wish to be effective allies to their clients from diverse backgrounds and offer support in learning how to create as safe a space as possible where cultural difference is concerned.

This session is available in person and online as part of strand one.

Presentation title to be confirmed

The purpose of the session is Raising awareness that complaints happen and to encourage counsellors not to avoid thinking or talking about them.

The aims of the session are to cover that complaints reach & ripple far into our professional and personal lives, yet we CAN survive and even thrive through and beyond a complaint. Making use of peer support, self-care, reflective learning, professional resources e.g. GPiA, Ethics, EF, Legal, ICO, CPD & more. To consider non-conformance scenarios & how these ‘could’ impact a complaint. A brief tour of the ‘paperwork’. Coping strategies & rebuilding work & life post conclusion / sanction.

This session is available in person and online as part of strand two.

Ethical dilemma panel

In conjunction with the conference theme on ‘tricky situations’ that we may find ourselves in as therapists in the counselling ‘room’, this in-person only session will support delegates to bring their own ethical dilemma to the panel for group discussion and exploration.  There will be an opportunity at the start of the session for all those in attendance to submit their ethical dilemma, which will be put to a vote for all delegates to agree on which three* dilemma’s are the most topical and will be taken forward to be explored during the session.

The expert panel will guide the group discussion offering their perspectives and signposting to useful resources and also discussing the ethical decision making model which is a supportive tool to utilise when working through ethical dilemmas**.

*Given the number of delegates and the time constraints only a maximum number of three ethical dilemmas will be taken forward for the group discussion.  

** For this session to work effectively and to gain maximum benefit of attending, it is requested that all delegates keep confidentiality and comitt to not disclosing any information discussed in the workshop outside of the session. To support this, the event organisers won’t record the session for use in the on-demand service and delegate numbers will be limited.

This session is available in person as part of strand three.