Holding space at The Practice Rooms is valued highly and while they hold space, we - the practitioners - are holding our clients and supervisees. But who would hold them if something suddenly happened to us, like sudden illness or death? Who would be responsible for making sure your clients are informed and supported in a confidential, compassionate and ethical way?
While many of us will already know about Clinical Wills some may not and others maybe avoiding this difficult subject.
I work as a Psychotherapist and Clinical Supervisor at TPR Hove and am accredited by the UKCP. For us it is essential to have made a Clinical Will so I thought it might be helpful to share how that works and what is advised.
The requirement is usually to nominate two qualified practitioners in your field of practice to act on your behalf in the event of incapacity and to carry out the terms of the Clinical Will. These may be called Professional or Clinical Executors (CEs) or Trustees. Here I give a general introduction to the clinical will and to some of the basic issues to consider.
What is a clinical will for?
Your clinical will deals with the arrangements for informing and supporting your clients and supervisees as appropriate in the event of your unexpected death or incapacity. The fundamental concepts 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 practitioners practice that require client confidentiality to be preserved and/or specialist knowledge or expertise.
• Strict preservation of the confidentiality integral to the therapeutic alliance. This might be the closure (and deletion if appropriate) of confidential files, workbooks, personal development notes, emails and mobiles containing client information.
• Deal with certain financial aspects of the practice, such as the collection of outstanding fees.
• It may also include other tasks involving the closure of your practice (e.g.: insurance, membership of professional bodies, ending of training or writing contracts, tying up financial affairs etc.).
• Primarily it should cover any matter that involves the welfare, support and confidentiality of clients.
• All of these functions will be defined in a contract, and the practitioner has the re-assurance that all aspects of their professional work, as mentioned above, will be handled by a fellow professional rather than by their family and or friends.
When you engage with a new client, in accordance with data protection legislation, you should inform them that in the event of your death or incapacity to practise, two other qualified therapists will have access to their personal data in order to inform and support them. It is advisable to include this in the data protection statement that you issue to clients.
It is vital that your next of kin, the executors of your personal will, your attorneys, your solicitor etc. are all known to your CEs and that they understand the role of the CEs and vice versa.
In order to support this process, you should prepare a client list and keep this updated. Your updated list must be shared with your CEs – perhaps by personally handing over a written list or more conveniently by keeping an encrypted list online that updates your CEs as soon as you mark-up changes. My client list ,for example, is on a software package called Write Upp and my CE’s have the passwords for my account.
There is a lot to think through for your CE to be prepared. If you want to look further into this then do look at you own professional body for information. Here are a few links from the field of psychotherapy :
Polly Irvin is an Integrative Arts Psychotherapist/Clinical Supervisor and Practice Manager TPR Hove