Psychotherapists and Counsellors: Do You Work With Survivors of Sexual Violence Pre-Trial?

‘Pre-trial therapy’ is the term given to survivors of sexual violence in the UK that have reported to the Police about their experiences, and are making use of talking therapy at the same time. This includes being at any stage of the criminal justice system from reporting, to investigations, to a trial.

This term is used, and the process of it explained, within the Crown Prosecution Service guidelines on ‘The Provision of Therapy for Vulnerable or Intimidated Adult Witnesses’:

The current guidelines are over fifteen years old, and are in the process of being revised. This is being done by a panel made up of individuals from the Crown Prosecution Service, the NHS, and some voluntary sector organisations.


I’m part of an independent steering group in Leeds, brought together by Inspiring Women Changemakers, that includes Tayba Azim (Integrative Psychotherapist) and Dorothy Hodgkinson (Independent Advocate, Coach, and Facilitator).

We aim to influence the new guidelines, and thus far have been in conversation with legal professionals working with sexual offences as part of achieving this.

One of our concerns is that the CPS have failed to take into account the experiences of putting the guidelines into practice, when it comes to providing psychotherapy and counselling. At present, every practitioner and therapeutic service interprets them differently.

For survivors this means therapeutic services are delivered to them inconsistently, as no one wants to jeopardise the criminal justice process. However, our ability to offer therapeutic support is simultaneously compromised. Additionally, many practitioners do not know about the guildelines as this isn’t a standard part of counselling or psychotherapy training.


The steering group would like to hear from Counsellors, Psychotherapists, and therapeutic services who offer pre-trial therapy. In particular, we’d like to know:

How do you interpret the guidelines?

What does offering pre-trial therapy look like?

When has the application of the guidelines been helpful, or unhelpful?

Your views can be sent in the form of a written submission, however short or long. These will be collated into a report, which will be sent to the panel. The deadline for written submissions is Friday 28th February at 5pm.

For more information, and to provide your written submission, please contact me.

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