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Ensuring Child Safety in Therapy: Navigating DBS Checks for Newly Certified Therapists  



Embarking on a journey as a therapist, you're poised to transform lives across a spectrum of ages and backgrounds. Yet, when it comes to nurturing the minds of our younger clients, the landscape changes. Working with children isn't just about adapting our skills to their unique perspectives—it also involves navigating a maze of legal intricacies. While many of these guidelines are universal, it's crucial to delve into the specific requirements of your locale. Let's uncover what it takes to ensure that our therapeutic impact is not only profound but also compliant with the necessary legal frameworks.

 

This article will delve into the legalities surrounding working with these groups as a hypnotherapist, with a particular focus on Disclosure and Barring Service (known as DBS) checks with the UK.


Working with Children.

 

When working with children, you must adhere to a stringent set of regulations to ensure their safety and well-being. These regulations are primarily designed to protect children from harm and exploitation, making it essential to understand the requirements and comply with them.

 

Key legal considerations include:

 

1.    Informed Consent: Consent is a fundamental requirement when working with minors. Hypnotherapists must obtain informed consent from the child's parent or legal guardian before providing any services. This consent should outline the nature of the therapy, potential risks, and the expected outcomes.

2.    Safeguarding: Hypnotherapists should be well-versed in safeguarding procedures. They must be prepared to recognize signs of abuse, neglect, or harm and know how to report such cases to the appropriate authorities.

3.    Confidentiality: Maintaining confidentiality is crucial, but it must be balanced with the child's safety. Hypnotherapists should make it clear to both the child and their guardian that information may be disclosed if there are concerns about the child's well-being.

4.    DBS Checks: All hypnotherapists working with children must undergo a DBS check, which was previously known as a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check. A DBS check is a background check that reveals any criminal convictions or cautions, ensuring that the therapist has no disqualifying offences. A clear DBS check is a legal requirement when working with children.

 

 

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Checks

 

In the UK, DBS checks are administered to help employers and organizations make informed decisions about hiring or contracting individuals who will be working with these populations.

 

There are three types of DBS checks:

 

1.    Basic DBS Check: This check reveals unspent convictions and is available to anyone, including individuals working as private practitioners. However, it may not be sufficient when working with children.

2.    Standard DBS Check: A standard check reveals both spent and unspent convictions, as well as any cautions, reprimands, or warnings. This level of check is typically required for roles involving regular contact with children.

3.    Enhanced DBS Check: An enhanced check includes all the information from the standard check, plus any additional information held by the police that they consider relevant to the role. It is usually required for positions where the individual will have close, unsupervised contact with children.

 

Full information on DBS checks and how to apply can be found here.  https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/dbs-checking-service-guidance--2

 

Any kind of therapeutic intervention with young children should always be conducted with the utmost care and ethical considerations and within the boundaries of legal requirements.  

 

Should you work with a young child unsupervised?

 

Whether it is advisable for a hypnotherapist to work with a young child unsupervised depends on several factors, including the child's age, the nature of the therapy, the therapist's qualifications, and legal and ethical standards.

 

Here are some considerations:

 

1.    Age and Capacity: Young children may have limited capacity to provide informed consent and understand the implications of hypnotherapy. It is generally recommended to work with children under the age of 16 only with the consent and involvement of their parents or legal guardians. In some cases, even older teenagers may require parental involvement.

2.    Parental Consent: It is essential to obtain informed consent from the child's parent or legal guardian before providing any therapy to a minor. This consent should include details about the nature of the therapy, potential risks, benefits, and expectations.

3.    Supervision and Safety: When working with young children, especially if they are particularly vulnerable or have special needs, it may be advisable to have a trusted adult present during the sessions to ensure the child's safety and comfort. This supervision can also help build trust between the child, the therapist, and the child's caregiver.

4.    Legal Requirements: In some cases, there may be legal requirements or regulations specific to the region in which the hypnotherapist practices that dictate whether or not a therapist can work with a young child unsupervised. For instance, certain jurisdictions may require parental consent and/or supervision.

5.    Professional Ethics: Hypnotherapists must adhere to their professional code of ethics, which typically includes considerations for working with minors. These ethical guidelines often emphasize the importance of informed consent, maintaining confidentiality, and prioritizing the child's well-being.

 

Conclusion

 

Working with children and vulnerable adults in the UK comes with significant legal responsibilities. Ensuring informed consent, adhering to safeguarding procedures, maintaining confidentiality, and obtaining the appropriate level of DBS check are all essential aspects of providing ethical and legally compliant therapy. By understanding and following these legal requirements, you can provide effective and safe treatment for your clients while upholding your professional responsibilities.

 

Do consider the advantages of having a parent or legal guardian present in the session, especially for young children.  Remember behaviour can be learned from those around them, it may be that the parent or legal guardian will benefit from being present in the session as much as the child does.

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