What is a Clinical Will and Why Do You Need One?

What would happen to your clients and the confidential aspects of your private practice in the unexpected event of your death, serious illness or incapacity? I know it’s a rather morbid question, and nobody wants to consider these things, but as therapists, we have a professional and ethical duty to our clients to make adequate provisions for these eventualities.

In other words, we need a therapeutic or clinical will. If you know you need one in place but don’t know where to start or what to include, we have done the hard work for you and developed a complete template. You can purchase yours here.

clinical will for therapists

New BABCP Guidance

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP) has recently introduced the concept of a clinical will as a professional standard within the practice of psychotherapy. A clinical will is a document that outlines what should happen to a therapist’s practice in the event of their unexpected absence or death. It helps ensure continuity of care for their clients and prevents any disruption to ongoing therapy.

The BABCP recognizes the importance of having a clinical will as an essential component of professional practice and encourages its members to develop one. By adopting this standard, the BABCP is demonstrating its commitment to upholding high standards of professional conduct and ensuring that clients receive the best possible care, even in unforeseen circumstances.

What is a Clinical  Will?

A clinical will is a document detailing the actions needed to either suspend or close your therapy practice in the event of your unexpected death or incapacity. The fundamental concepts of putting together your therapeutic will are:

– Support, containment and ethical management of clients in informing them and helping them decide what they want to do next and how to go about this.

– Terminating ethically and responsibly aspects of the therapist’s practice that require client confidentiality to be preserved and/or specialist knowledge or expertise.

– Strict preservation of confidentiality that is integral to the therapeutic alliance.

Professional bodies such as BPC, UKCP and BACP generally require therapists to nominate two qualified therapists to act on a therapist’s behalf in the event of incapacity and to carry out the terms of the clinical will.

Why is a Clinical Will Important?

As much as we’d rather avoid thinking about some of the worst-case scenarios that make a clinical will necessary, the coronavirus pandemic has brought serious illness and death to the fore. Ensuring you have a therapeutic will is primarily about protecting the welfare and confidentiality of your clients. It’s unlikely you’d have become a therapist in the first place if you didn’t care deeply about these things.

As well as the clinical responsibility to clients, your therapeutic will may need to include other financial and administrative matters. This might be the closure and deletion of confidential files, notes, emails and mobiles containing client information. It may also include other tasks involving the closure of your practice, such as insurance, membership of professional bodies, ending of training or writing contracts and tying up financial affairs.

Protect Your Business and Clients with a ‘Done For You’ Clinical Will

At Pocketsite, we’ve put together an editable PDF document designed to make creating your therapeutic will as simple as possible. It does all the hard work for you, providing detailed guidance notes and template letters.

As well as ensuring a smooth transition for clients to other therapists or services, it covers terminating or suspending websites and informing supervisors. It’s especially good for therapists new to private practice who might not be aware of everything they need to consider. For just £25, you can be confident you’ve covered all your bases.

Purchase and Find Out More

clinical will for therapists

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.