Safeguarding Guidance
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BABCP Safeguarding Guidance

Published March 2023

Introduction and purpose of Safeguarding Guidance

BABCP and the Association for Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (AREBT) have collaborated in producing this guidance for our members. Our first priority is to protect the public. Both organisations are committed to promoting and maintaining the highest standards of client safety and care. 

The purpose of this guidance is to provide a comprehensive understanding of our members’ obligations and responsibilities in relation to safeguarding adults and children.

The guidance outlines the legal framework, key principles of safeguarding, minimum training requirements and the role of our members in protecting clients from harm. It is designed to help members to ensure that their clinical practice is informed by a duty of care to protect their clients and to promote best practice in safeguarding. 

It aims to provide practical advice and support to members to enable them to identify and report safeguarding concerns and to take appropriate action to protect the public.

By following this guidance, our members will be able to fulfil their obligation to protect the public and help maintain the reputation and credibility of our organisation and profession. 

We are committed to safeguarding and the welfare of children and vulnerable adults, and recognise that the welfare and safety of children and vulnerable adults is paramount.

Complex issues and dilemmas can arise, and will vary across different settings and contexts for clinical practice. In addition to this guidance, relevant legal frameworks, and our Standards of Conduct Performance and Ethics will inform decision-making, alongside consulting your clinical supervisor.

The aims of our guidance on safeguarding adults and children

  1. To promote high standards of client safety and care
  2. To protect clients from harm
  3. To equip our members with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to identify and respond to safeguarding concerns
  4. To align with the principles of the Care Act (2014) and protect vulnerable individuals from abuse and neglect
  5. To ensure that our members are aware of their legal obligations to report safeguarding concerns
  6. To provide clear and comprehensive information on recognising the signs of abuse and neglect, responding effectively, and seeking support and advice
  7. To promote a culture of safeguarding within BABCP, where all members take their responsibilities for client safety and care seriously
  8. To work together to protect the public.

To achieve our aims, we will:

  1. Develop and implement clear policies and procedures for safeguarding adults and children
  2. Signpost our members towards training and guidance on safeguarding, including recognising signs of abuse and neglect, responding effectively and reporting concerns.
  3. Encourage our members to seek support and advice when dealing with safeguarding concerns
  4. Encourage a culture of openness and transparency, where members feel confident to raise concerns and receive support and advice
  5. Provide clear guidance on legal obligations to report safeguarding concerns, including the need to balance patient confidentiality with the duty to protect vulnerable individuals from harm
  6. Raise awareness of safeguarding issues and promote best practice in safeguarding adults and children
  7. Regularly review and evaluate the effectiveness of safeguarding policies and procedures, and make improvements where necessary.

Legal Framework

BABCP is committed to safeguarding the welfare of people, including those who may lack capacity or are under power of attorney during their interaction with our members, both in the United Kingdom and in Ireland. This guidance outlines the key elements of our safeguarding policy in these situations, taking into account the relevant legislation in all jurisdictions.

The legal framework for safeguarding adults and children in England and Wales is established by several key pieces of legislation, including the Care Act (2014)the Children Act (1989) and (2004), and the Human Rights Act 1998

The Care Act (2014) provides the legal framework for safeguarding adults in England and Wales, establishing clear definitions and responsibilities for protecting individuals from abuse and neglect, ensuring that their best interests are at the forefront of all decisions that affect them. 

The Human Rights Act (1998) incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights [PDF] into UK law, protecting individuals from abuse of their fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to life, freedom from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment, and the right to respect for private and family life. The Modern Slavery Act (2015) provides a legal framework for tackling the issue of modern slavery, including provisions for the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators.

In Northern Ireland, the legal framework for safeguarding adults and children is established by several key pieces of legislation, including the Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016, the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007, and the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995

The Mental Capacity Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 provides the legal framework for safeguarding individuals who lack capacity, ensuring that decisions made on their behalf are in their best interests and that their rights are protected. 

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (Northern Ireland) Order 2007 establishes a legal framework for protecting vulnerable groups, including children and adults at risk, from abuse and neglect. The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 lays out the legal framework for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in Northern Ireland, ensuring that their best interests are at the forefront of all decisions that affect them.

In the Republic of Ireland, the legal framework for safeguarding adults and children is established by several key pieces of legislation, including the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act (1997), and the Children First Act (2015).

The Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act (1997) makes it an offence to engage in conduct that causes harm to another person, including physical, psychological, and financial harm. 

The Children First Act (2015) establishes a legal framework for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in Ireland, including provisions for the protection of children from abuse and neglect, and for the reporting of safeguarding concerns.

In Scotland, the legal framework for safeguarding adults and children is established by several key pieces of legislation, including the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act (2000), the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act (2014), and the Human Rights Act (1998).

The Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act (2000) provides the legal framework for safeguarding individuals who lack capacity, ensuring that decisions made on their behalf are in their best interests and that their rights are protected.

Under the Care Act (2014), abuse is defined as: "A violation of an individual's human and civil rights by any other person or persons."

Definitions 

Children

In England, a child is defined as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. Child protection guidance points out that even if a child has reached 16 years of age and is living independently or in further education or a member of the armed forces, in hospital or in custody in the secure estate, they are still legally children and so should be given the same protection and entitlements as any other child.

In Northern Ireland, the Children (Northern Ireland) Order (1995) defines a 'child' as a person under the age of 18.

In Ireland, the Children Act (2001) of the Irish Statute Book states that an adult is any person over the age of 18.

In Scotland, the definition of a child varies in different legal contexts, but statutory guidance, which supports the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act (2014), includes all children and young people up to the age of 18. Where concerns are raised about a 16 or 17-year-old, agencies will need to consider which legislation or guidance is appropriate to follow, given the age and situation of the young person at risk.

In Wales, the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act (2014) states that a child is a person who is aged under 18.

Vulnerable adults

The definition of “vulnerable adult” is less clear. It encompasses a wide range of individuals, including those with physical disabilities, mental health conditions, learning disabilities, or age-related conditions, who may require assistance with day-to-day living, or who may be at increased risk of harm. In general, a vulnerable adult is someone who is unable to protect themselves from abuse, neglect or exploitation due to their vulnerability, and requires the support and protection of others.

An adult who lacks mental capacity to take care of themselves will be vulnerable. There are adults who do have mental capacity but may be unable to take care of themselves or to protect themselves from significant harm or exploitation. This may be due to infirmity, for example, and may not be permanent.

In England, the Care Act (2014) defines an adult at risk as someone who is 18 years or older, and who is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect. 

In Northern Ireland, the definition of an adult at risk is provided by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order (2007)which defines an adult at risk as someone who is 18 years or over, and who is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect. 

In Ireland, the definition of an adult at risk is provided by the National Safeguarding Office for Vulnerable Adults, which defines an adult at risk as someone who is 18 years or over and who, because of age, illness, disability or any other circumstances, is vulnerable to abuse, neglect, or exploitation.

In Scotland, the definition of an adult at risk is provided by the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act (2007), which defines an adult at risk as someone who is 18 years or over and who, because of age, illness, disability or any other circumstances, is unable to protect themselves from harm or exploitation.

Child Safeguarding

The Care Act (2014) also defines safeguarding for children in the UK. The Act sets out the responsibilities of local authorities and other organisations to protect children from abuse and neglect. The definition of safeguarding for children includes protecting children from harm, preventing harm to children's health or development, and ensuring that children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care. The Act requires organisations to work together to ensure that children receive the support they need to be safe and thrive.

Adult Safeguarding

The Care Act (2014) Definition of Adult Safeguarding: “Protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances.”

Capacity

In accordance with the Mental Capacity Act (2005)capacity refers to an individual's ability to make a specific decision at a specific time. Our members must make a determination of capacity for each decision that needs to be made and must do so in accordance with the five principles set out in the Act:

  1. Presumption of capacity
  2. Supporting individuals to make their own decisions
  3. Unwise decisions
  4. Best interests
  5. Least restrictive option

Best Interests: The welfare and best interests of the individual who lacks capacity must be the primary consideration in all decisions made on their behalf. Our members must act in accordance with the principles of the Mental Capacity Act (2005) and the Code of Practice [PDF], and make decisions that are in the individual's best interests, taking into account their past and present wishes, feelings, beliefs, and values.

Power of Attorney: A power of attorney is a legal document that allows an individual (the "donor") to appoint someone else (the "attorney") to make decisions on their behalf if they lack capacity. Our members must respect the authority of individuals under power of attorney and act in accordance with any instructions provided by the attorney, as long as they are not contrary to the best interests of the individual who lacks capacity. If there is any doubt about the validity of the power of attorney, or if there are conflicting instructions, members should seek advice from the appropriate authorities.

In all cases, our members must abide by our Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics and report any safeguarding concerns to the appropriate authorities in a timely manner. If a member has reason to believe that an individual is at risk of abuse or neglect, they should make a referral to the local safeguarding team in accordance with the Care Act (2014).

Types of abuse and neglect

Our members should be aware of the signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect and understand the different forms that safeguarding concerns can take. By doing so, they can fulfil their duty of care to protect their clients from harm and ensure that safeguarding concerns are reported in a timely and effective manner. The Care Act (2014) sets out specific types of abuse, which include:

Physical abuse: This involves causing physical harm to an individual, such as hitting, slapping, pushing, or otherwise physically injuring them. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a form of physical abuse, and health and care professionals are required to report it - see the section below 'Guidance for BABCP on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)'.

Sexual abuse: This involves any sexual behaviour that is unwanted or non-consensual, such as sexual assault, rape, or sexual exploitation. Sexual abuse can also include exposing an individual to sexually explicit material, or forcing or coercing someone into sexual acts. It includes engaging a child or vulnerable adult in sexual activity of any kind against their will. A child under the age of 16 cannot, as a matter of law, consent to sexual activity. Sexual abuse of someone over the age of 16, or a vulnerable adult, involves engaging them in sexual activity of any kind without their genuine consent. Some vulnerable adults may be incapable of giving such consent, because of their mental capacity or mental health.

Emotional abuse: This involves causing psychological harm to an individual, such as bullying (including cyber bullying), intimidation, humiliation, or threatening behaviour. Emotional abuse can also include limiting access to social or other support networks, or subjecting the individual to repeated negative comments or criticism. It can involve conveying to a person that they are worthless, unloved, inadequate, or only valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. 

Neglect and acts of omission: This involves failing to meet an individual's basic needs, such as providing adequate food, water, shelter, or medical care. Neglect can also include ignoring an individual's safety or welfare needs, or leaving them in an unsanitary or dangerous environment. It is the most common form of child abuse and reason for taking child protection action.

Financial abuse: This involves misusing or exploiting an individual's financial resources, such as stealing their money or property, or mismanaging their finances. Financial abuse can also include denying access to financial resources, or forcing an individual to sign over control of their finances to another person.

Self-neglect: This refers to behaviour that involves neglecting to care for one's personal hygiene, health, or surroundings, and it can include hoarding. The Care Act (2014) requires that capacity be considered when self-neglect is suspected, as well as the impact that the behaviour may have on other family members and whether it gives rise to a safeguarding concern. It is important to note that self-neglect can be complex and can sometimes overlap with other forms of abuse, such as financial or material abuse, neglect, and acts of omission, or psychological or emotional abuse. When assessing self-neglect, it is essential to consider the individual's capacity to make decisions, their overall health and well-being, and the impact that the behaviour is having on their life and those around them. 

Organisational abuse: This encompasses a range of harmful actions, including neglect and inadequate care, that take place within institutions or specific care settings such as hospitals or care homes. This type of abuse can manifest itself in a variety of forms, including neglect, poor care practices, physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, or financial exploitation.

Discriminatory abuse: This involves abuse based on any individual's protected characteristics, including age, gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation, and can take many forms, including bullying, harassment, or exclusion.

Modern Slavery: signs of modern slavery and human trafficking include:

  1. Control of someone’s movements or behaviour through threats or physical force
  2. Exploitation, such as being forced to work without pay, in unacceptable working conditions, or in the sex industry
  3. Being told that they cannot leave their job or the place they live
  4. Having no control over their passport or identification papers
  5. Living in poor, overcrowded conditions

We recognise that modern slavery is a form of abuse and exploitation that affects vulnerable individuals, including adults and children. Our members have a responsibility to be aware of the signs of modern slavery and to report any concerns to the relevant authorities. 

Six Safeguarding Principles 

In order to protect the public and promote high standards of patient safety and care, our members are expected to adhere to these principles:

Empowerment: Our members will empower clients by enabling and facilitating their decisions and choices about their own lives and treatment. This involves promoting informed decision-making and ensuring that clients have control over their own treatment plans and goals and protecting their rights and autonomy.

Prevention: We expect members to prioritise prevention by promoting good practice and identifying potential risks. This includes conducting assessments to identify any risks and taking steps to mitigate these risks, ensuring the safety and well-being of clients.

Proportionality: any safeguarding response must be appropriate and proportional to the level of risk and the needs of the client. Responses should be balanced and not excessive or disproportionate, and aim to avoid any unnecessary harm to clients.

Protection: Members must take prompt and appropriate action to protect clients who may be at risk of harm or abuse. This involves taking steps to prevent abuse from happening and ensuring that clients are safe from harm.

Partnership: our members should work in partnership with clients, their families, carers and relevant agencies to promote the client’s welfare and to safeguard them from harm. This involves engaging in open communication and collaboration with all relevant parties to ensure that clients receive the best possible care. This in turn promotes the well-being of the public.

Accountability: Our members are accountable for their actions and decisions relating to safeguarding. This involves taking responsibility for ensuring that safeguarding responsibilities are fulfilled, and being accountable for any safeguarding incidents that occur. This promotes accountability and transparency in safeguarding practices, and enhances protection of the public.

Working with children and vulnerable adults 

Members who work with children should have completed a CBT training in working with Children and Young People. There are accredited programmes which include working with children and young people here. Our website also includes guidance on working with children and young people. Any member working with children must have completed general CBT training to at least post-graduate diploma level, and have training on:

  1. knowledge of child and adolescent development in order to be able to deliver a developmentally appropriate CBT intervention
  2. skills to deliver CBT that is appropriately adapted for people who are neurodiverse or have neurodevelopmental disorders
  3. using CBT within a systemic context (to include family, school, and wider network)
  4. understanding and responding to diversity, faith-based and cultural needs in their work, including in relation to safeguarding concerns
  5. understanding of the influence of attachment theory, and ability to deliver CBT within this context
  6. awareness of the legal frameworks that govern working with under 18-year-olds, which includes safeguarding and mental health risk.

Our members who work with children and young people are responsible for ensuring that they:

  1. work in accordance with our Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics
  2. only accept referrals to work with children and/or vulnerable adults if they have the appropriate training, skills and experience
  3. engage in clinical supervision with a supervisor who has appropriate experience and skills in working with this client group
  4. take action to prevent harm caused to clients by other practitioners
  5. maintain CPD that is specifically relevant to working with children and young people.

Members must be able provide evidence that they meet these responsibilities and adhere to our Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics. Members who are selected for audit when making an annual Reaccreditation Declaration will be asked for this evidence.

Duty of Care Regarding Identifying and Reporting Safeguarding Concerns 

Our members have a duty of care to identify and report any safeguarding concerns. If there is reasonable cause to believe that an adult or child is at risk, they must make a report to the appropriate authorities. It is a legal requirement to report these concerns, including modern slavery.

Members’ responsibilities and reporting safeguarding concerns: Members must report incidents or concerns about harm promptly. They must be familiar with the relevant legal requirements and procedures for reporting, and the person or agency to report to. Members must:

  1. Recognise signs of abuse or neglect and understand the definitions of safeguarding concerns.
  2. Be familiar with relevant legislation and understand reporting obligations.
  3. Take appropriate action to protect vulnerable individuals, including making a report if necessary.
  4. Collaborate with other agencies and share information to ensure protection.
  5. Adhere to ethical principles, such as confidentiality and respect for rights, as outlined in the Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics.
  6. Maintain accurate and up-to-date records, and report in a timely manner to the appropriate person or agency.
  7. Provide accurate and detailed information
  8. Maintain confidentiality in accordance with regulations and policies
  9. Maintain up to date knowledge and understanding of safeguarding principles.
  10. Be aware of the consequences of failing to report, take appropriate steps to rectify any errors or omissions and be aware that they are accountable for actions or inaction.

Reporting and confidentiality

Maintaining confidentiality and trust is central to the therapeutic relationship. However, taking action to safeguard children and vulnerable adults can take precedence over confidentiality, or over a client’s explicit wishes. This means that essential information-sharing and acting on concerns may involve breaching confidentiality or those wishes. It is good practice to ensure that you have up to date information about how to manage confidentiality and data security, and what to do if a breach of confidentiality may occur. You should continue to respect confidentiality and the client’s wishes as far as possible outside areas that must be overridden for safeguarding reasons. 

You should ensure that potential clients are aware of how safeguarding and confidentiality are approached before agreeing to work with them. This information should be included in your therapeutic contract.

If you have a concern about abuse or exploitation it is your responsibility to share that information. If possible consult your client first, and your supervisor, before sharing information about abuse or exploitation. In most organisations that provide mental health services e.g., the NHS, charities, educational settings, there will be a contact for a specific person or department responsible for safeguarding. 

In independent private practice settings you will be able to contact the Local Authority designated Safeguarding Lead or Duty Care Officer. Once you have given the name of the child or vulnerable adult the person you have contacted is required to take the case forward.

If you believe your client is in imminent danger you must take steps to ensure their safety, and you may need to contact the police. 

You must always keep appropriate records of your decisions and actions, and make notes at the time, or as soon as possible. If you are uncertain that a child or adult is at risk, the Local Authority’s safeguarding team will be able to advise you. You are able to maintain your client’s anonymity at this initial enquiry stage if you wish to discuss a potential concern.

Statement on compliance with the ‘Prevent’ duty

We are committed to complying with the Prevent duty as set out in the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act (2015). We have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism, in a way that is consistent with our overall commitment to safeguarding, inclusion, and equality.

In complying with the Prevent duty, we ensure that we fulfil our legal obligations while maintaining our commitment to safeguarding and inclusion.

Procedures for compliance with the Prevent duty

If a member has concerns that an individual may be at risk of being drawn into terrorism, they must follow the procedures set out in our safeguarding policy, including making a referral to the appropriate authorities such as the local Prevent coordinator.

members must conduct a risk assessment of the individual, taking into account the individual's circumstances and any indicators of vulnerability to being drawn into terrorism.

members must work with the individual to develop a support plan that addresses their specific needs and risk factors, in a way that is consistent with our commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion.

members must ensure that any measures taken to comply with the Prevent duty are monitored and reviewed on an ongoing basis, to ensure that they are effective, proportionate, and do not result in discrimination or stigmatisation of individuals based on their race, religion, or any other characteristic.

In complying with this duty, we are also committed to safeguarding, inclusion, and equality.

Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing can be a critical component of safeguarding and is essential in protecting vulnerable individuals from harm. There is additional guidance on whistleblowing on our website.

Whistleblowing refers to the reporting of any illegal, unethical, or harmful practices within an organisation, which includes reporting safeguarding concerns. Our members have a legal and ethical obligation to report any safeguarding concerns they become aware of, and the protection of whistleblowers is guaranteed under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998).

Reporting: If you have reasonable cause to believe that an adult or child is at risk of abuse or neglect, you must make a report to the appropriate authorities. This applies to all forms of abuse, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial, and neglect. You should provide accurate and detailed information when reporting safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm, including any relevant background information and the nature and extent of the harm. 

It is important to report safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm as soon as possible, in order to ensure that appropriate action can be taken to protect the individual and prevent further harm.

Record Keeping: You should maintain accurate and contemporaneous records of safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm, including any actions taken and the outcome of any investigation.

Confidentiality: You should be aware of your obligations under the Data Protection Act and should handle confidential information in accordance with relevant regulations and policies. You should also be aware that the protection of whistleblowers is guaranteed under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (1998).

Support: we will provide support to its members who report safeguarding concerns. This includes providing access to legal advice and representation, if necessary.

In summary: Whistleblowing is an essential component of safeguarding and our members have a legal and ethical obligation to report any safeguarding concerns they become aware of. By fulfilling this responsibility, BABCP members can ensure that they are fulfilling their duty of care to protect their patients and clients from harm and that safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm are reported in a timely and effective manner.

Record-keeping

Accurate and contemporaneous record-keeping is a critical aspect of safeguarding. Members must maintain records of any safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm that they encounter in the course of their work. These records should include the following information:

  1. Date and time of the incident or concern
  2. Nature and extent of the harm or potential harm. 
  3. Relevant background information, including any relevant medical or personal history. 
  4. Actions taken, including any reports made to the appropriate authorities. 
  5. Outcome of any investigation or follow-up actions.

Safeguarding records must be kept confidential and should be protected in accordance with relevant regulations and policies, such as the Data Protection Act. Our members should be aware of their obligations under these regulations and policies and should handle confidential information accordingly. 

Any notes, records and any data that is collected that relates to clients must be kept securely.

Safeguarding records should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they are accurate and up-to-date. This information may be used in future safeguarding investigations or inquiries, so it is important that it is kept in a format that is easy to access and understand.

By maintaining accurate and contemporaneous records of safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm, our members can ensure that they are fulfilling their duty of care to protect their clients from harm and that safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm are reported in a timely and effective manner.

Information Sharing

Information sharing enables relevant agencies and individuals to work together to protect vulnerable people. The information sharing should be based on the following principles:

Legal and ethical framework: our members must be familiar with the legal framework surrounding information sharing, including data protection laws and safeguarding legislation. They must also adhere to ethical principles, such as confidentiality, informed consent, and respect for privacy.

Purpose and necessity: Information sharing should only take place when it is necessary to protect a vulnerable person. The purpose of the sharing must be clearly defined and justified.

Sharing with appropriate people: our members must share information with appropriate people, such as other professionals, relevant agencies, and relevant family members. They must ensure that the information is shared in a way that minimises the risk of harm and maximises the potential for protection.

Information sharing agreements: members should ensure that they have formal agreements in place that set out the parameters and expectations of information sharing. These agreements should be reviewed regularly to ensure that they remain up-to-date and relevant.

Confidentiality: confidentiality must be maintained in accordance with regulations and policies. Information must only be shared with people who have a legitimate reason to receive it.

Record-keeping: accurate and up-to-date records must be kept of any information that is shared, including the reason for sharing and the outcome of the sharing.

Sharing with consent: consent should be sought from the person being safeguarded before sharing any information about them, unless it is not possible or appropriate to do so.

By following these principles, members can help to ensure that information sharing is effective and protects the rights and well-being of vulnerable people.

Clinical Supervision and Continuing Professional Development 

Clinical supervision should be used to help identify and mitigate risks and to enhance practice. Members must attend regular clinical supervision sessions where safeguarding issues can be discussed, and their practice can be reviewed to ensure it is consistent with safeguarding legislation and policies.

Continuing professional development is also important for BABCP members in ensuring they maintain their knowledge and understanding of safeguarding principles and best practice. Regular training and education in safeguarding should be attended and recorded to demonstrate commitment to safeguarding and to maintain professional standing.

Co-operating with Safeguarding Enquiries

Members must co-operate fully with any safeguarding enquiries and investigations that take place. This includes responding promptly to requests for information and providing relevant information, records and documentation as required.

Members must also be aware of, and keep to, their responsibilities under relevant legislation, such as the Data Protection Act, and to handle confidential information in accordance with regulations and policies.

During a safeguarding enquiry, members must:

  1. Be open and transparent in your dealings with relevant agencies and individuals 
  2. Provide accurate, timely, honest and complete information 
  3. Refrain from interfering with any safeguarding investigation or enquiry 
  4. Respect the rights and confidentiality of individuals involved in the safeguarding investigation 
  5. Be aware of obligations under relevant legislation and regulation

Training 

BABCP members should receive regular training and awareness on safeguarding, including how to identify and respond to safeguarding concerns. They should also be familiar with local and national safeguarding guidance, and should understand the safeguarding expectations of the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care.

The minimum training on safeguarding that BABCP members should have, includes the following:

  1. Awareness relevant policies and procedures for safeguarding, including duty of care to report any concerns or incidents of harm.
  2. Understanding different forms of abuse and neglect, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse, as well as neglect.
  3. Recognising signs and symptoms of safeguarding concerns and how to respond appropriately.
  4. Reporting procedures and pathways for reporting safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm, and the appropriate person or agency to whom to make a report.
  5. Confidentiality and data protection under the Data Protection Act and handling confidential information in accordance with relevant regulations and policies.
  6. Record-keeping and maintaining accurate and contemporaneous records of safeguarding concerns and incidents of harm, including any actions taken and the outcome of any investigation.
  7. Ongoing training and professional development in safeguarding, seeking out opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills in this area.

All Registrants and members engaged in clinical work are expected to complete appropriate training and update regularly on safeguarding. We strongly recommend a minimum of Level 2 safeguarding in Child and Adult Safeguarding, and ideally at Level 3.

We do not directly provide safeguarding courses or give recommendations about external providers. Please see section on resources below

Guidance for BABCP on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is a practice that involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs, for non-medical reasons. FGM is often performed on young girls between infancy and the age of 15, and is considered a violation of the human rights of girls and women. The procedure is extremely painful and can cause long-lasting physical, psychological and social harm. It is illegal in the United Kingdom, and is recognised as a form of child abuse.

Our members should be aware of the signs and symptoms of FGM and understand their responsibilities in terms of reporting and safeguarding. Members should also be familiar with relevant legislation and guidance, including the ‘Multi-Agency Statutory Guidance for England, which provides information on the role of healthcare professionals in identifying and reporting cases of FGM.

A sensitive and non-judgmental approach to clients who may have experienced FGM is needed, respect for privacy and confidentiality. If a client discloses that they have undergone FGM, or if a member suspects that a client may be at risk of FGM, they must follow safeguarding procedures and report the concern to the appropriate person or agency.

In addition, members should be aware of the potential impact of FGM on a client’s mental and physical health, and should be prepared to provide appropriate support and referrals to specialist services, if required.

Reporting obligations: we have a responsibility to report any incidents of FGM or concerns to the relevant authorities. Members must understand their reporting obligations under safeguarding legislation and procedures and be familiar with the process for making a report, including the appropriate person or agency to whom to report.

Ethical principles: we must adhere to ethical principles, such as confidentiality and respect for rights, as outlined in the Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics.

Collaboration with other agencies: members should collaborate with other agencies and share information to ensure the protection of individuals who may be at risk of FGM.

Keeping accurate and up-to-date records: members must maintain accurate and up-to-date records, documenting all actions taken and investigation outcomes.

Updating knowledge and understanding: members should seek opportunities to broaden and update their knowledge and understanding of FGM and its impact on affected individuals.

Supporting affected individuals: members should provide appropriate support to affected individuals and their families as appropriate, taking into account their physical and mental health needs and providing referrals to relevant services when necessary.

Members should be aware of the consequences of failing to report incidents or concerns of FGM and take appropriate steps to rectify any errors or omissions.

BABCP Guidance for Managing Disclosures of Historic Childhood Sexual Abuse from adults in Therapy

This section outlines responsibilities and best practice for therapists adult clients make disclosures of non-recent sexual abuse. The responsibilities are different when a client is still under 18, please refer to the safeguarding guidance above.

Response to Disclosure: When a client makes a disclosure of childhood sexual abuse in therapy, the therapist should respond in a compassionate and empathic manner that demonstrates the seriousness with which they take the disclosure. The emphasis should be that abuse was not the client's fault and that the responsibility for the abuse lies solely with the abuser. They should also gather more information and assess the client's circumstances before making a decision on how to proceed. This may include but not be limiting to the following : 

  1. It is good practice to ask if they still have contact with the person or if there is any current risk from them 
  2. It is good practice to ask if the person knows if the perpetrator currently has contact with children (under 18), and if so, whether the client thinks that any children are currently at risk. 

Options for Action: When a therapist receives a disclosure of non-recent abuse, they have several options. They can choose to take no action and not to report to relevant authorities, use their clinical judgement to present options for action to the client in a sensitive and respectful manner, or encourage anonymous reporting. Another option is to refer the case to a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).The therapist must be knowledgeable about the resources available in their area and the proper procedures for reporting to MASH. The client can also be encouraged to make a direct report to the police and social services, with the therapist providing support and ensuring that the information is shared with the relevant agencies.

Reporting Process: Clients are encouraged to report abuse directly to the police and social services, with therapists providing active support and verifying that the information has been shared with the relevant agencies. This should be framed as a routine practice.

Therapists should also recognise that victims/survivors may feel ambivalent about reporting and may not act on the advice given. 

Therapists should provide clients with information about the disclosure process and their rights, including the potential waiting period for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to decide if there is enough evidence to proceed with a case, as well as information on how to file a complaint if they feel their case has not been handled properly. Regardless of potential outcome, the therapist should reassure the client that the potential of an unsuccessful prosecution should not deter them from reporting if the outcome is to gain some closure. 

The client should be signposted to local victim support services when a case is being investigated and they may benefit from practical and emotional support throughout the process. These services can help them understand their rights and options, as well as provide them with a safe and supportive environment to cope with the impact of the abuse.

Therapists must be knowledgeable about specific services such as Sexual Assault Referral Centresand local services that can provide access to an Independent Sexual Violence Advisor.

In cases of honour-based abuse, clients can be referred to Karma Nirvana following assessment as to whether the client prefers using a South Asian specific service. This takes into account that clients belonging to a close-knit community may feel hindered in a disclosure process. Clients should be supported in being empowered and facilitated to decide which services they prefer.

Involvement of Therapists: In some cases, therapists may also be involved in discussions, even when the client is making their disclosure directly to social care staff or the police. It is important to have clear protocols and lines of reporting within organisations and for practitioners to have a clear pathway for consultation. The emotional response to disclosure and taking action can be complex and the impact should not be underestimated.

Considerations for Client Support: The investigation process and the risk of unsuccessful prosecution can be highly distressing and re-traumatising for the client, as well as for their family and social circle. After a court verdict, support may be necessary for the client, regardless of the outcome. In cases where the verdict does not result in a successful conviction, therapists are able to offer support. Emphasise the bravery of the client in that process, and how the verdict impacts on them.

Balancing Confidentiality and Safeguarding: In some situations, the client may not wish to report the abuse themselves or may not be able to do so, but the therapist may have enough concern about the safeguarding of others to make a report on their behalf. In these cases, the therapist must carefully balance the risks of sharing information with the risks of not doing so, with the guidance on safeguarding supporting breaking confidentiality if necessary. If the client is not comfortable with passing information forward, their fears should be gently explored to understand any potential dangers of retaliation by the alleged perpetrator or wider community.

In some cases, therapists may also be involved in discussions with social care staff or the police, and it is important to have clear protocols and lines of reporting within organisations. The investigation process can be highly distressing for the client, but support is necessary regardless of the outcome. If the client is not comfortable with sharing information, their fears should be explored. In some situations, the therapist may have to make a report if they have concerns about the safeguarding of others, but they must carefully balance the risks and follow safeguarding guidelines.

In the UK, there is no statute of limitations for reporting historic sexual abuse, which means that individuals can come forward to report abuse at any time, no matter how long ago it occurred. However, it is generally easier to prosecute abuse that has been reported sooner after it occurred, as evidence and witnesses may be more readily available.

Each client's experience of abuse is unique. It is important to respect the client's right to control the pace and content of their therapy and to acknowledge the impact that disclosure may have on their emotional state. Therapists should be familiar with the relevant legislation and guidelines for reporting suspected abuse, understand the importance of maintaining client confidentiality, and be aware of their responsibilities to report suspected abuse to the relevant authorities. They should also have a clear understanding of the support and resources available to them and the client in the event of a disclosure.

Therapists should seek supervision and support in cases where they are unsure about how to respond to a disclosure, and to be proactive in seeking out continuing professional development opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills in this area.

Further information

This document is provided for general guidance purposes only. If you require specific or additional information it is important to take advice from experts in safeguarding, such as your local authority safeguarding team.

Resources and links

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and sources of advice are given below:

Many local authorities run Level 3 safeguarding courses which are at an appropriate level for registrants, and online training can be accessed.

BABCP Children, Adolescents and Families Special Interest Group (CAFSIG) - provides a forum for members, and organises regular CPD events

MindEd - a source of online resources about child and adolescent development and mental health

The Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) - holds a variety of resources and events

YoungMinds - provides online resources for young people and parents/carers on mental health problems in young people

The Anna Freud Centre - runs relevant CBT courses

BACP Guide to working with vulnerable adults in Scotland [PDF]

Relevant organisations and agencies

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC)

Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs)

The Care Quality Commission (CQC)

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO)

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The police

Healthwatch England

The Adult Safeguarding Boards

The General Medical Council (GMC)

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

The Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)

Action on Elder Abuse (AEA)

The Children's Commissioner for England

For additional general guidance, contact our Senior Clinical Advisor helen.macdonald@babcp.com

 

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