What is Pre-trial therapy?
Pre-trial therapy is counselling that is offered to a victim or witness while the criminal justice process is on-going and a trial may be possible.
From the point when you report what happened to the police to the time when all court proceedings are complete we can offer a limited style of counselling to ensure that you feel emotionally supported whilst also trying not influence the evidence you would give in court.
How is it different from other counselling?
Before you give evidence in court you are requested not to discuss your testimony with anyone in any detail. As a result of this, in pre-trial therapy you should not talk about anything that is in your police statement or maybe relevant to the case.
This usually means that you should not talk about the event for which you have come to us for support which can feel like the ‘elephant in the room’. You and your counsellor will decide in the first session what you will use the counselling for so that it can still be helpful for you.
What can I use it for?
Just like other counselling you will see the same therapist at regular appointments.
You can talk about what you are thinking and feeling at the moment and work on making changes, for example; to your self-esteem or within relationships.
You can work on coping strategies for dealing with what happened to you and talk about the impact it has had on you, as long as you don’t talk about the specific memories.
You can talk about any worries you have about the police or court process.
Pre-trial counselling is often used to deal with emotional distress in day to day life during the criminal justice process. You may reach a point where you feel you cannot make any more progress or feel any better without talking through what happened, when this is the case it may be time to end the counselling until after the trial. You may still access our ISVA service to provide more practical support to you through court.
Why can’t I talk about what happened?
If you go over what has happened in counselling it could be argued that you have been ‘coached’ about what to say in court. This could have an effect upon the way your evidence is viewed by the Court and the outcome of the trial.
Will my notes be used in court?
Though it happens very rarely, it is possible that we could receive a request from the prosecutor or a court order saying we must disclose your counselling records. Our counselling notes are very brief and factual and will clearly state that it has been agreed not to discuss your evidence during the counselling. Therefore it is possible but unlikely that they would actually be used as evidence in court.
What about after the trial?
Once the court process has ended you will be able to re-refer to the service for counselling where you can talk about and work through the trauma of what has happened to you if you wish.