Tom Lothian has worked with clients from ages 4 to 80 in a wide range of settings. He has experience in psychiatric hospitals, private practice, community drug and alcohol, community health and working in the adult forensic system. In addition to individual, couples and group therapy Tom is an experienced trainer and developer of therapeutic and training manuals. He has worked with clients on a variety of challenges including trauma, substance use, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, personality disorders, gender and sexual issues, anger and offending, and social skills for clients on the autism spectrum. Tom finds his work mostly fun and always rewarding. His research interests include wellbeing, gender, prejudice, substance use, emotional regulation, power and relationships.
Legal and ethical frameworks surrounding the provision of mental health and counselling services to children contain clear direction regarding when informed consent can and cannot be provided (Australian Psychological Society, 2015; Australian Association of Social Wokers, 2015; Larcher, 2005). There is, however, a lack of peer reviewed research or clinical guidelines regarding the consent and confidentiality of information that should be provided to children incapable of informed consent. This paper outlines the counselling practice principles for working with young children in place across FMC Mediation and Counselling Victoria (FMC).FMC aims to increase the likelihood of a strong sense of trust and credibility in the therapeutic relationship (General Medical Council, 2000; Barkley, 2013; Sue, 1981). Emphasis is placed on highlighting what is and what is not to be disclosed by the clinician to consenting guardians. Open communication between children and their supportive carers is always encouraged. Practitioners use the conversation regarding the boundaries of confidentiality and rights of consent to educate child clients and their guardians in the limits imposed by law and those which can be negotiated between the family and practitioner.
In taking this approach, FMC aims to provide counselling services in which children are aware of the extent of the supports available and the safety those supports can extend. This approach also aims to increase the investment of child clients in the counselling process. A case study will highlight how this approach works in practice.