Confidentiality within Counselling
Information shared during the counselling sessions are confidential and remain between us; client and counsellor. This includes face to face, phone and online sessions. There are some exceptions which are listed below: -
· If I have concerns about safety and felt you and/or others were at risk of serious harm including self-harm, serious crime, safeguarding issues and matters of national security. In most cases, but not all, I would discuss with you and seek your permission to contact the right agency to keep you or someone else safe. In some cases permission is not required for me to take further action.
· I take brief notes of our sessions in order to best support you and our work. This is best practice for counsellors and notes are factual and anonymous. Please see below for further information on data storage.
· I have regular supervision with a fully qualified counselling supervisor. This is also best practice and ensures I am working ethically and within my abilities. My supervisor also acts as an emergency contact for me and my clients should anything happen to me. They will contact you and assist in finding alternative support as well as taking responsibility for my data.
Professional body and ethical framework
I am a member of the National Counselling Society (NCS) which means I have met all the requirements for the Professional Standards Authority to practice as a counsellor safely and ethically. I abide by their Ethical Framework which you can view here www.nationalcounsellingsociety.org/about-us/code-of-ethics and for more information about the regulator and their role in safeguarding clients of health care professionals visit www.professionalstandards.org.uk/
If you would like to check my training, professional membership or insurance certificates please feel free to ask.
Privacy and Confidentiality
I am committed to respecting your privacy and keeping your information safe and abide by the Data Protection Act (2018) and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) (2018). I am also registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO). Any information/data I collect from you is only used for the purposes of delivering your service. What I collect, how I use and store that information is explained below.
How your data is used and stored
I take your contact details (name, telephone, email, address) in order to maintain contact with you in relation to the counselling work and you choose your preferred method of contact. If you are under 18 or a vulnerable adult I will also require a parent/guardian or carers contact details and consent to work with you. This information is stored on paper in a locked filing cabinet.
I will request an emergency contact who you agree I could speak with in case of an emergency e.g. your GP or health professional. This will be kept with your contact details.
Session notes are taken for my reference and are stored anonymously and separately from your contact details so you are not identifiable. I store these notes for up to 7 years in line with the NCS best practice guidelines and recommendation from my insurance provider Howden. For those under 18 notes are stored up until their 25th birthday.
You can request to see your notes if you so wish. Any other request made would need to be done via a legal route e.g. solicitor or police and in almost every case would still require your permission. We would discuss your preferences and legal implications on an individual basis.
I do not use social media or have a contact form on my website so all electronic data is managed via my computer or phone. My work laptop is password protected and has the relevant antivirus and security filters.
Any emails sent are only accessed by myself and are deleted after 60 days. I use Outlook and they have some encryption services built in although I would recommend not sending sensitive data via email. Any important information sent via email may be anonymised, printed and added to your notes file.
Any phone sessions are conducted in the same manner as face to face sessions where I will use an enclosed room to ensure confidentiality. Text messages sent are accessed my only me and messages will be deleted once read or no longer required. Phone numbers are not usually stored but if this is necessary only initials are used to maintain anonymity.