By using the contact form on the website your email address is stored in order for it to be relayed to my email address, along with any information you submit in the contact form. It is later deleted from any online server used by the website provider. Clients will find content on my website that links to websites of other third parties. Please note that I do not control these sites and I am not responsible for how they collect, store or use information.
I access my emails via smartphone and computer, which are both password protected. My email account requires a further password authentication. I check emails only at regular times and I endeavour to respond to all emails within two working days upon opening them. If I am away for an extended period, such as a holiday, you will receive an automated response. In the event of an emergency, email communication is not advisable and you should contact emergency services. I do not store clients’ contact details in an address book linked to my email address. I periodically delete emails if not specifically necessary to our work. All electronic enquiries are erased after 12 months. I keep a digital diary of appointments linked to my email account, which does not contain the full name, but initials of the person and number of sessions.
PIease note that I send invoices as an attachment to an e-mail, please let me know if you prefer a printed copy.
I am not currently using an e-mail encryption programme, so any emails we send to each other may be vulnerable to viruses or human error. For this reason, it is best to be thoughtful about what you include in emails to me, and which email address you choose to use with me. Often, it is best to rely on email for non-confidential communications like arranging appointment times etc. It is beneficial to keep confidential and psychological information limited to the counselling sessions. I will request your preferred email address from our assessment session. If you choose to communicate with me by email, please be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of Internet Service Providers. Furthermore, they can be vulnerable to viruses and unintended forwarding or replication. If you are concerned about the confidentiality of your emails, you may wish to contact me by telephone instead.
Emails may also be vulnerable to hacking or miss-sending by human error. If you would prefer not to communicate by email, please let me know. Otherwise, it is best to use email only for logistical purposes (changing session times, etc.).
There is no emergency telephone/text messaging service available and contact between sessions should be primarily for arranging/cancelling sessions. This can be done via telephone not via social media messengers. Should you experience an emergency, please contact either the emergency services or if you are feeling suicidal, ring The Samaritans: 116 123. Text messages will periodically be deleted. No names of clients are stored in my mobile phone address book.
Before committing to regular counselling sessions, an initial assessment is conducted. The information collected on the assessment form entails:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Telephone number
- Email address
- GP address
- History of previous counselling
- Contact with other professional bodies, social services or the police
- Medical information relevant to counselling, e.g. current or recent medication
- Client expectations and goals for counselling
In addition to the information collected on the assessment form and your full name on the working agreement, I also keep notes about our sessions together. These notes are written by hand on a paper notepad. They are pseudonymised by not containing names, but merely information such as initials, gender and age of the person. I keep written notes in a locked filing cabinet alongside the assessment and working agreement.
Please note that under certain circumstances, notes can be subpoenaed in a court of law. It is not an ethical breach of confidentiality to disclose lawfully required information. I will keep your notes for the period to which I am obliged which can be between 5 to 7 years, after which they will be destroyed. In some cases, some specific information may need to be kept indefinitely.
Disclosures for the purpose of taxation will normally only be about monetary payments without any therapeutic details of the work undertaken. The tax authorities receiving this information are bound to strict confidentiality which you can find in the HMRC Privacy Notice.
In case of my sudden death or incapacity to work, a BACP registered colleague can receive your name and contact details to inform you about the circumstances. This applies to clients who are currently committed to counselling, not former clients. You can opt in to being contacted if you wish.
In case of an emergency, where your safety is at imminent risk, I may share your details with healthcare services or emergency services. Where possible, I will let you know beforehand should this happen.
You have the right to have the information I hold about you erased. If you would like me to destroy your information, please let me know. However, as mentioned above, I may need to retain your data for a required period of time for insurance and legal purposes, after which they will be deleted/destroyed. In general, I will only hold the minimum information I need about you for my work, and will regularly audit and clear such data. I am registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to hold such record in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) 2018.