Privacy and confidentiality is of utmost importance to this service at all times and stages of the process.
Keeping confidentiality is part of the counsellors duty of care towards a client.
The content of all counselling sessions is confidential unless you tell your counsellor there is danger to other people’s lives. If there is danger to your life this will be discussed and explored in a non-judgemental way between you and your counsellor.
Counselling Record Keeping
“In order to provide an appropriate standard of service, we are fully and unconditionally committed to fulfilling the requirement of Good Practice that all practitioners providing services to clients will keep records that are adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the type of service being provided, and comply with the applicable data protection requirements,” (BACP 2018: Good Practice 5, 15)
Written Personal Data
- Often prospective clients disclose some information about themselves in their very first email contact. These details are not kept if you choose not to engage in counselling.
- You are required to give out some personal information helpful and relevant to the counselling process. This is explained in my GDPR statement (General Data Protection Regulation).
- You will need to give your consent for this service to keep your data for six years after the end of your counselling. This is to fulfil insurance requirements.
First Meeting Data Confidentiality Explained
- In the initial meeting with the counsellor, terms of service are explained and agreed to between you and the counsellor.
- If you haven’t filled in an Intake Form already, you will be required to give basic details – name, address and how best to contact you etc. It will be important for you to discuss with the counsellor, if giving any of these details is uncomfortable for you and you do not wish to give them.
Storing Written Information
- Only your counsellor has access to forms and any notes.
- These forms are then locked away in a locked cabinet in a locked room in accordance with Data Protection Act.
- Session notes and personal details are minimal and kept encrypted online. Once the counselling has finished notes are kept for six years, to satisfy insurance requirements, and then erased. Often the bare minimum of notes are recorded.
- Paper information as confidential waste is destroyed securely by a professional disposal company.
The Boundaries of Confidentiality
- Client work is discussed with a clinical supervisor on a regular basis but each client is made anonymous. The supervisor is mostly interested in the practice of the counsellor.
- If you meet your counsellor in the street they might acknowledge you but will not stop to talk. This is to protect the working relationship as well as your privacy and confidentiality and the counsellor’s personal space too.
- In British Law, there is no duty to rescue those considering suicide. I may reserve the right to breach confidentiality in such cases. However, I would not do so without explicit discussion in the first instance. I generally respect the clients wishes.
- If I consider myself to be at the limit of my professional ability I am likely to encourage you to accept a referral to another therapist or agency. This might involve me passing on limited information with your consent.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
- Your information is held confidentially according to the Data Protection Act, and not disclosed. There are some legal exceptions where disclosure may be made, such as the Terrorism Act or Child and Young Person’s Safeguarding or Vulnerable Person’s Safeguarding including anyone who falls under the Mental Incapacity Act.
- If in discussion with your counsellor it is decided to disclose some confidential information, it is important for you to know how, why and to whom information will be given by the therapist.
- Furthermore, the balance of public interest favours the prevention and detection of serious crime such as rape murder, manslaughter, treason, kidnapping, or child abuse.
- Therapists may be asked to produce a report for the court relating to work with a client. Consent should be obtained directly from the client wherever possible and in writing.
Client Access to Records and Reports
- Clients may ask to see their records or any report required to be written about them. A weeks notice may be necessary to access them depending on the timing of the request.
Confidentiality and Privacy and Social Media
- Clients are not tweeted about, nor is any of their specific content referred to on any social media platform.
- Known clients are not followed but may be privately acknowledged.
- Known clients are discouraged from relating with the counsellor through social media.
Other Boundaries of the Counselling Working Relationship
- The expected rules of courteous respect and non-abuse apply during the session for all persons involved.
Relevant Legal Documents
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018, Freedom of Information Act 2000,
Human Rights Act 1998 Article 8 – right to private life
If you have any questions about privacy or confidentiality please do ask.