The legal context of therapy
Practitioners are increasingly aware that their practice is bounded by the law, as well as by ethical and professional considerations. This may be because their work takes place within a statutory setting, such as health or social services, or via the impact of quasi-legal concepts such as contracts and confidentiality, or arising from a growing recognition of issues such as litigation, liability and negligence. In addition, some therapists, i.e., psychologists, are subject to statutory regulation, via the Health and Care Professions Council. Statutory changes, such as the introduction of human rights and data protection law, have had a major impact of therapeutic practice, which practitioners are legally required to adhere to (see Chapter 5 in this volume). Therapists working with risk are also conscious of the interface of their practice with the law in the form of key pieces of legislation such as the Mental Health Act 1983 and the Children Act 1989. However, therapists are often uncertain about the nature of their legal responsibilities, unsure about the legal parameters of their work and may be subject to conflicting advice, or guidance, about their actual duties regarding compliance with the law.