The information below I give to new clients at the start of the work. I have uploaded it here for the convenience of my existing clients and for any potential clients to view. It includes important information about data storage and confidentiality, as well as information about how I work – session times, cancellations, holidays, payment of fees.
Sessions: Usually you will have a counselling/psychotherapy session once a week for 50 mins. Once your day and time has been agreed, that day/time is reserved for you each week. This also applies to online sessions.
For online sessions, we will agree the primary medium of communication for our sessions (Skype/Zoom/Mobile/Landline), either audio or video, and also a secondary means of communication if the primary medium is unavailable or fails. If our session is disrupted and has to end due to technology and we are using our primary method of communication, I will attempt to contact you via the secondary mode. We may need to reschedule the session.
Confidentiality: Your therapy will entail discussing some very intimate things, such as your thoughts, feelings, and actions. Anything that you disclose remains confidential. It is important that during our sessions you feel you can talk openly with me and that your right to privacy is protected. This generally means that I cannot discuss you or your case with any third parties without your consent. For online sessions, please ensure you create a therapy space for yourself where you can talk privately without being overseen/heard or intruded upon. Please also consider the time pre/post the session as preparation and necessary digestion time for yourself before returning to your normal activities.
Online therapy security: I will ensure that adequate levels of security are in place for the technology I use, i.e. my laptop is password protected, firewalls are adequate, virus protection is in place, and that my wi-fi is password protected. I also will ensure that whilst we are engaged in an audio or video call, nobody will overhear or oversee our communication, or intrude on our work.
Records: I take some notes about our sessions. These include mostly information about the dates we met, the topics covered and anything we have agreed. I may need to refer back to these notes as our work progresses over time. To protect confidentiality, I never include your full name in my notes. My notes are stored securely. I will keep them for the duration of our work together, and afterwards for up to 6yrs as required by law. Please ask, if at any time, you wish to see your session notes.
Professional Will arrangements. If I suddenly became incapacitated or otherwise unable to contact you, your name and contact details will be made available to a psychotherapist colleague who will contact you to inform you of the circumstances. My colleague will offer help to make any arrangements for ongoing alternative support. S/he will also be bound by confidentiality. Should my absence be permanent I will also ensure that your personal data will be deleted.
Exceptions to confidentiality: There are some situations that may arise where confidentiality can be broken but when possible, we would discuss my concerns prior to any action being taken. Although these situations are rare, you should be aware that:
- If you threaten to cause severe harm to yourself, and I believe your threat to be serious, then I am ethically required to protect you in any way I see fit. In situations such as these, my intervention may involve talking to you about going to a hospital, contacting your GP, your nominated contact, or, in some extreme cases I may have to call the police. I will ask you as a matter of procedure for a next of kin contact.
- If I receive a court order requesting your records, I may be required to provide any relevant information.
- All therapists consult with a clinical supervisor on a regular basis for the duration of their career to ensure best practice is maintained. When I talk with my clinical supervisor about your case, this will be done with your best interest in mind. Your identity will always be kept confidential, so your full name will never be disclosed.
Fees: The fee for the initial 50 mins session and subsequent sessions will normally be agreed prior to meeting. I review my charges each year and we will agree any increase in advance.
Payment: Please pay by bank transfer 24hrs before the session. My bank account details are: [given when we have agreed to work together].
Holidays, cancellations and missed sessions: I normally take three breaks from my practice each year at Easter, in the summer and at Christmas. I will give you exact dates in advance. You are not charged when I am on a break from work.
Outside of these breaks times in our work, reserved sessions which are cancelled/missed by you (for holiday/work/other appointments etc.) will need to be paid as follows:
- With two weeks or more notice for a cancellation – half fee charged
- Less than two weeks’ notice – full fee charged
We may be able to reschedule a cancellation in the same week, but if not, the above applies.
Late Arrivals: If for any reason you arrive late for the session, I will still see you, but the session will terminate as per schedule, so you will not have a full 50-minute session.
Online Sessions: Please contact me via the agreed platform (Skype, Zoom, Phone) at the time of the start of your session. If you are late contacting me, the session will still need to finish on time.
Please note: there may be limitations in terms of confidentiality in using certain online platforms for a session.
Contact details/and in-between sessions: I will ask you to complete a Client Personal Details form. Please keep me up to date with your contact details.
I usually communicate with clients via email or text message about organising sessions and other administrative matters. On a rare occasion, I may need to call you, but only for very urgent matters. You may text me or email me for similar administrative matters.
Unless it’s an emergency, if you email or text about your psychological well-being in-between sessions, I will usually discuss the issues raised in our next session.
Please note: Emails/texts are not 100% confidential and are therefore better for non-confidential communication such as arranging appointments.
If you need to convey any more confidential information by email a way of making this more secure is to include it in a password protected attachment and separately agree a secure (not easily guessed, with upper and lower-case letters and numbers) password with the recipient.
Emergencies: If you are experiencing extreme distress which is outside of the support I can offer, we will discuss what additional levels of support I can access on your behalf. i.e. contacting your GP, or that you can access for yourself i.e. online services, friends, family.
Please note: working online may not be suitable for all clients, especially if you are in extreme distress.
Ending our work: All therapy comes to an end. Sometimes when clients decide to end, they wish to do so quickly. However, the leaving period is part of the therapy work and it is usually beneficial for an ending to be mutually agreed rather than a sudden or one-sided action. Therefore, if either of us feels it is time to close the therapy, we will discuss this, and I would encourage you to tell me at any point if you feel that therapy is not meeting your needs or expectations.
It can be valuable to allow a period of time in which to close the therapy, to review what has taken place and complete anything left over from our work together. In therapy that has taken place over a year or longer, we would ideally allow at least four weeks for this process or longer depending upon individual circumstances. If we have worked together for 6 weeks or less, then one session to end is adequate.
Ethical Framework: In my therapy practice I abide by professional ethics of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and the UK Council for Psychotherapists.
We can discuss any questions that you may have during our sessions. Further general information about therapy is also available via:
- The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP): http://www.psychotherapy.org.uk
- The British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP): http://www.bacp.co.uk