Pre-trial therapy is therapy offered to vulnerable or intimidated witnesses of a criminal trial. Vulnerable witnesses include witnesses who are under 18 years of age or those whose quality of evidence is likely to be diminished because of disability or disorder. Intimidated witnesses include those whose quality of evidence is likely to be diminished because of fear or distress. All plaintiffs in sexual offences cases are regarded as vulnerable witnesses.
Pre-trial therapy is a form of therapy only offered once you have completed a police interview, and until the court case has completed. As your Therapist, Liz Whiteley Counselling & Psychotherapy shall be working in a multi-disciplinary team that includes the (CPS) Crown Prosecution Service and Police. Liz Whiteley Counselling & Psychotherapy shall be working under the procedures and guidelines of this Policy, which is taken from two documents entitled Provision of therapy for vulnerable or intimidated adult witnesses prior to a criminal trial - Practice guidance, implementing the Speaking Up for Justice Report (1998) and Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance for vulnerable or intimidated witnesses including children (2011)
Starting Pre-Trial Therapy
As a client, you shall only be considered as requiring therapy within the boundaries of pre-trial therapy as soon as you have reported your case to the police, and an investigation is live. If that investigation is brought to an end either by the (CPS) Crown Prosecution Service, by the police or due to the completion of a court case, then the requirements of pre-trial therapy can cease.
You should inform the police, your solicitor, and the (CPS) that you are seeing a Therapist with Liz Whiteley Counselling & Psychotherapy and that your Therapist is aware of the pre-trial situation.
Difference between a pre-trial therapy session and a standard therapy session
During a pre-trial session, guidelines must be followed to keep the balance between the needs of you as my client and the need of the courts to ensure that your evidence remains uncontaminated by pre-trial discussions with Liz Whiteley Counselling & Psychotherapy. These guidelines present certain limitations to what can be explored within the sessions. The following are some of the issues not allowed to be explored/discussed in a pre-trial therapy session.
· facts/evidence of the case
· Any facts that you have or have not disclosed to the police
· How you present yourself or the facts in court, Re-telling the story of what happened, or what you did to someone else. Such discussions are known as "coaching" or "rehearsing".
· Looking at your history concerning the events related to the trial - factors that may have lead to the events that are going to trial.
· Changing/transforming your behaviour or changing/transforming your relationship with the events that are going to trial.
The following list notes issues that can be explored together during pre-trial therapy
· The impact of the events going to trial on you and support with associated PTSD, anxiety or depression that does not require the rehearsal of abusive events.
· A safe place to offload distress, fears, and how it has affected your relationships.
· A space to assist you to gain tools to help with self-esteem and self-confidence.
· Help with self-care and any worries about the police or court process.
Confidentiality cannot be guaranteed during pre-trial therapy, Requests for information to be obtained from Therapists may be made at various stages in a criminal case by:
- the police
- the prosecutor
- the defence
- the court
If the client gives this permission, only notes which are relevant to the court case will be shared with the defence and prosecution. Defence/prosecution does not need to request notes that are not relevant to the court case. All session notes are brief and factual and will clearly state that it has been agreed not to discuss your evidence during the therapy sessions. It is therefore unlikely the records are requested or used in evidence. Therapists can be called as a witness to discuss the records, but this is very rare.
If you feel this is a service you need, please do reach out and get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07388462807 for more information.
CPS - Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: https://www.cps.gov.uk/sites/default/files/documents/legal_guidance/best_evidence_in_criminal_proceedings.pdf
CPS - Provision of Therapy for Vulnerable or Intimated Adults: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/therapy-provision-therapy-vulnerable-or-intimidated-adult-witnesses
Dean Richardson 2019 - https://havantcounselling.com/counselling/pre-trial-counselling/
StopSO - Tackling Sexual Abuse: https://stopso.org.uk/
Sue Lambert Trust - A Summary of the Crown Prosecution Service Pre-Trial Therapy Guidelines: https://www.suelamberttrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/15-Pre-trial-therapy-guidelines.pdf
The Life Centre - Their Policy of Pre-Trial Therapy (included here as an example): https://lifecentre.uk.com/how-we-work/our-policies/pre-trial-therapy-policy/