We’ll be adding more information and guidance to this hub whenever we can, so please check back regularly.
Last updated 10 November 2020
The introduction of tighter restrictions across the four nations in recent weeks comes in response to the significant rise in COVID-19 infections. The virus is highly contagious, leading to fatalities in some cases. These restrictions have important implications for psychotherapists and psychotherapeutic counsellors seeking to work in-person. Please keep checking this page as well as the links provided.
Across the UK’s four nations, official government guidance continues to state that people who can work effectively from home should do so. However, in England and Northern Ireland, the government has included ‘mental health services’ among the list of businesses that can remain open under restrictions that came into force on 5 November in England and 16 October in Northern Ireland. Support groups of up to 15 people are also permitted in England under these restrictions.
In Scotland, remote working where possible is encouraged and exact restrictions vary by region. Under the most stringent restrictions (Level 4) it is possible to deliver therapy and mental health support groups in-person but only if it is essential for people’s wellbeing.
For therapists working independently, there may be instances where they feel they cannot work effectively remotely. In this situation, therapists should give careful consideration to the consequences of in-person work – including whether they or their clients are at higher risk from COVID-19. It is essential that any therapists who decide to work in-person ensure their working premises are COVID-secure, both for them and their client(s).
Employed therapists should follow their employer’s guidance around working practice. Any member who feels they have been asked to deliver therapy in unsafe conditions should contact our policy team by emailing email@example.com.
There are currently different terms of restriction across the four nations:
- Northern Ireland entered a 4-week period of stricter restrictions on 16 October.
- Wales ended a 2-week period of stricter restrictions on 9 November, reverting back to the previous guidance.
- England entered a 4-week period of stricter restrictions on 5 November.
- In Scotland, a 5-level system is operating to reflect regional variation in infection rates.
However, despite recent changes to overall guidance, the core message around working practice remains the same across the UK – work from home if you can do so effectively and, if you cannot, ensure your workplace is COVID-secure. Provided your workplace is COVID-secure, there is scope across the four nations under existing restrictions for therapists who feel they need to work in-person to do so.
For ongoing regionally specific information, please check the local interactive map for restrictions in your area and, where relevant, that of your clients, your place of work or educational establishment.
In his speech on 22 September 2020, the Prime Minister announced a legal obligation to create a COVID-secure professional environment. While the government guidance does not specifically refer to therapists, we nonetheless interpret the legal obligation as applying to service providers as well as to employers. Any practitioner (therapist, supervisor, trainer/educator) who isn’t able to work in a fully COVID secure environment should work remotely or face potential legal penalties. If you are unclear as to whether your premises meet government requirements, please visit this link.
The latest UK government advice is to work from home wherever possible.
We strongly advise all practitioners to check with your insurance provider.
Employers and employees
If you are an employee of a service, please check your employer’s policies. If you are concerned about working safely during the pandemic, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has produced a resource for employers and employees outlining your rights and responsibilities.
If you believe that you are under pressure to return to in-person work unsafely, please contact our Policy and Advocacy Team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other sources of information
We are advising people who are looking for information about the virus to visit the NHS website, where you will find the most up-to-date information, including what to do if you are worried you might have symptoms, advice for travellers and common questions.
You can find more information and resources here: