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Pre-trial 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 the court proceeding 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.
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 sessions for so that it can still be helpful for you.
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 and discuss the specific memories. You can talk about any worries you have about the police or court process.
If you go over what happened while in counselling it could be argued in court that you have been “coached” about what to say in court. This could have an effect upon the way the evidence is viewed by the court and the outcome of the trial.
All the counselling records are confidential, however, it is possible that we could receive a request from the prosecutor or the defence lawyers or through a court order saying we must disclose our counselling records regarding your sessions. Our counselling notes are brief and factual and will clearly state that it has been agreed not to discuss your evidence during in counselling. It is therefore unlikely the records will be requested or if sought then actually used in evidence. The counsellor can be called as a witness to discuss the records but this is very rare.
Once the court case is finished you can return the RASAC for ongoing counselling if you feel you need it, and you can then talk about anything you want to and work through any unresolved issues. You can also talk through the experience of the court process as this can be traumatic in its own right. You may wish to see the counsellor who you saw for pre-trial therapy or another counsellor.
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