Why do counsellors and psychotherapists need insurance?
With over 75% of people* reporting that their mental health has been impacted by the pandemic, counselling and psychotherapy services are more critical than ever. However, like any profession involving direct contact with clients, there is high exposure to risk.
A patient misunderstanding your advice, an accusation that a course of counselling or psychotherapy has not had the expected result or an accident in your office that leads to someone being injured could all lead to a legal claim being made against you.
As a practising therapist, it's important to choose the right insurance policy to ensure both you and your clients have adequate protection. Counselling insurance protects professional counsellors and psychotherapists from the risks associated with delivering services and advice.
Professional body requirement
It is a requirement of joining professional associations like the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP) that you have adequate professional indemnity (PI) insurance. You will need to provide proof that they have this insurance in place before joining. These associations also require you, more generally, to have “adequate insurance when providing services directly or indirectly to the public.”
As a minimum requirement, your policy should include public liability or third party cover, in case a client is injured while visiting your premises, for example, and professional indemnity cover, in case you are sued by a client for negligence or malpractice.
Common types of claim
The most common claims made by therapists insured through Oxygen fall into the following categories:
- Reviewing claims made by other therapists over the last five years can help demonstrate the cover PI insurance provides. Claims are also a good indicator for areas of improvement – learn from the mistakes of others to better manage risk in your practice.
- Complaints about the advice or services given. A dissatisfied patient may complain for a number of reasons, in many cases, the therapist has failed to ensure their patient understood the therapeutic process, and what it would involve.
- Alleged breach of rules or regulations of the professional body. A patient might feel you have breached the rules and regulations of your professional body, or have not upheld standards expected by the profession.
- Breach of confidentiality. Claims can arise from alleged breaches in confidentiality, or even the mishandling or loss of documents/personal sensitive information.
The rapid acceleration in digital technology and handheld devices in recent years, increased further by the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, has led us to a point where almost all counsellors and psychotherapists interact in some way with digital technology.
If you are offering online or digital counselling sessions, you run the same risks as seeing clients in-person. You will want to protect your business against potential negligence claims or failure to deliver a service advertised with professional liability insurance. If you collect information about your clients (e.g. financial or medical) or if you record sessions, you should consider protecting your business with cyber insurance in the unfortunate event of a cyber-attack.
Whether you offer counselling in-person or online, it’s vital you protect yourself with the right insurance coverage. Having insurance in place means that, in the event of a complaint or legal action, you receive some form of protection from being personally liable and/or legal assistance if faced with disciplinary or complaints proceedings.
Oxygen counselling insurance is designed specifically to protect counsellors and psychotherapists against any unforeseen events that could leave your business exposed to financial loss. We can help arrange your hypnotherapy insurance, psychologists insurance, counsellors insurance and psychotherapy insurance, all of which can be tailored to your individual requirements to suit your business needs.
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