Important information About this Website

What is ‘Supporting Safe Therapy’?

This is a website dedicated to improving the experience of therapy for people in the UK.   It contains information and practical tools to help you have a safe and effective experience of therapy. Throughout the website there are speech bubbles with text drawn from interviews and questionnaires completed by clients and therapists; these are not direct quotes but represent real life examples.

Who is it for?

This site is for clients (patients) and for therapists (counsellors). It is not restricted to any particular kind of therapy; the key messages here apply to all kinds of helping relationships including psychodynamic therapy, cognitive behaviour therapy, humanistic therapy, counselling etc. All the pages on the website are appropriate for both clients and therapists to read and we invite you to use the whole website.

What do you mean by ‘therapy’?

By ‘therapy’ we mean any psychological therapy, which includes psychotherapy, counselling, talking treatments, and psychological treatment.   Those receiving therapy in the NHS are called ‘patients’, ‘clients’ or ‘service users’. In the private or independent sectors they are more often called ‘clients’.   Those providing therapy are called ‘therapists’ or ‘counsellors’.

Why is it needed?

Therapy aims to help people overcome personal difficulties, fulfil their potential and improve their mental health.   Most people do find therapy helpful and it has been shown to be an effective treatment for a range of mental health problems.   However, some people have a bad experience of therapy and their mental health gets worse, not better. Sometimes people can be harmed by therapy, just as there are sometimes negative effects from medication. Fortunately this is unusual, but it happens.  

Who has produced it?

We are a group of therapists, clients and researchers at the University of Sheffield Centre for Psychological Services Research. We were funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to undertake research into Understanding and Preventing Adverse Effects of Psychological Therapies. This project (AdEPT) reviewed existing evidence and produced a range of new research. This website is based on our findings and is a practical way to provide therapists, clients and prospective clients with information and tools to support better, safer therapy.  It is a static site; we are not able to provide individual advice or enter into dialogue about the content of the site, although we welcome feedback.


This website presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) under its Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) Programme (Grant Reference Number PB-PG-0408-15144). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

Visitors who use this website should note that all content is provided solely for information and education and not as a substitute for the advice of a health care professional. The University of Sheffield cannot guarantee that the information accessible via the website is accurate, complete or up to date.   Therefore, the University of Sheffield assumes no responsibility or liability arising from any error or omission or from the use of any information contained on this website. The University of Sheffield takes no responsibility for the contents of linked websites and links should not be taken as endorsement of any kind. We have no control over the availability or content of the linked pages.