2.1 Identify and answer common client questions about referral, referral processes and referral agencies.
Once a decision has been made to refer a client to another agency reasons for the referral should be discussed in detail with the client. Often clients will have mixed feelings with regard to their referral, some may welcome their referral whilst others may feel a sense of rejection and heightened anxiety feeling that they may be an unsuitable client for your agency. Some will have specific and common questions as to the reasons for the referral etc. A clear explanation should be offered at all times and the reason for the referral should correlate with what the chosen agency has to offer. The client should be given a reasonable timeframe and as much information to come to an informed decision.
Details about the referral process, the agencies fee structure, if there is waiting list and geographical location should also be provided, as the provider must be accessible to the client. Specific needs of the client i.e. disabled access should also be taken into consideration if applicable. The counsellor will need to explain to the client the process of referral specific to that agency for referring on for example whether this is done through a phone call or correspondence.
Once the client is willing to be referred the counsellor will need to discuss and agree what information will be passed onto the agency. The client’s permission will be required of any notes made of the assessment are to be passed on to the referral agency. In the case of receiving correspondence from the client’s GP you will need the client’s agreement for this to be included in the notes and you may also need to obtain permission from the sender of the letter for it to be passed on.
There is a tendency for agencies to do their own assessment of the client’s needs even if they have been assessed by the referring agency. The client needs to be informed about this so that they are in preparation of a second assessment together with any expenses involved. If the client has agreed for any notes to be sent on, these should arrive prior to the client’s initial appointment.
The client should be made aware of the timeframe for receiving an appointment. They should also be informed as to whether they have to call for an appointment or if an appointment will be sent to them. Once the particulars of the referral have been discussed with the client and providing they have reached a decision the details of the procedure will have to be put in writing so that the client can refer to them before moving forward.
Clarity with regard to confidentiality when planning a referral is important. Most clients agree to basic information about their problems and their personal details being passed onto the new agency. The limits of confidentiality should be disclosed to the client i.e. clinical or administrative staff. It is advisable to obtain a policy on confidentiality from the agency you are referring the client to and hand it to the client along with the agency’s agreement policy and any other relevant information.
Clients often disclose sensitive material during an assessment session as result of establishing a therapeutic relationship with the counsellor. Clients may object to certain disclosure of information and it is important to establish this before referring them. Clients may ask to see a copy of any correspondence that are in the process of being sent and a copy of the letter etc should be given to the client and the agency should be informed of this.
Should a referral not work out as planned the counsellor must be clear about the procedure to follow in the event of this happening. You need to inform the client if they should contact your agency again or seek assistance through their GP. Agencies vary in their policy with regard to this and the counsellor should...