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, CARA can offer a limited style of counselling to ensure that you feel emotionally supported whilst not influencing 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 details. As a result of this, in pre-trial therapy you should not talk about anything that is in your police statement or may be relevant to the case. This usually means that you should not talk about the event for which you have come to CARA for support which can feel like the ‘elephant in the room’. You and your CARA 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 CARA 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. Pre-trial counselling is often used to deal with emotional distress in day to day life during the criminal justice process.
You can talk about any worries you have about the police or court process and this will be passed onto your assigned ISVA (Independent Sexual Violence Advisor) so that she can support and talk you through the Criminal Justice 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 you can bring this to your therapists attention and then share your concerns regarding the case with your assigned ISVA.
Why can’t I talk about what happened with my CARA counsellor?
You and your counsellor don’t discuss details of the police statement so that, in the event that your case goes to trial, we can avoid any suggestion that your evidence has been influenced by your counselling sessions. 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.
What if it is decided by the Authorities that no further action will be taken regarding my report to the police?
Work with your therapist will continue under the guide of the CARA Counselling Agreement with an offer of up to 20 therapeutic counselling sessions available to you.
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. If this were to happen, the prosecution would need to release the information to the defence lawyer – this means that the suspect may have access to some of these notes in these rare cases. CARA counselling notes are only factual and any information shared will be with signed consent by you for example: dates and times of face to face sessions attended. There is a possibility that this information may be used as evidence in court.
What about after the trial?
Once the court process has ended you will be closed to your ISVA within a 4-6 week period to tie up anything still related to the Criminal Justice System. Your CARA counselling will continue until you have completed your (up to) 20 sessions.