The General Data Protection Act came into force on May 25th 2018 and in compliance with this, I need to let you know the personal details I collect from you, if you are, or were to become a client, as well as how I store, hold, process and destroy them.
As a client, when you attend an initial consultation with me, we begin by setting a working agreement that explains my commitment to client confidentiality and data protection, as well as when confidentiality may be breached. You will need to sign this agreement before we commence therapy.
I will collect personal details from you, as listed below:
Name (in the case of under 18’s I will also take a parent or guardian's name)
Date of birth
Contact number (for under 18’s I will take a parent or guardian's contact number too)
Contact details for an emergency contact for use if something were to happen to you on my premises
Contact details for your GP, for use with your permission
Details of any relevant mental or physical health issues and medication
Storage of Personal Details
The above personal details are stored in a locked filing cabinet, accessed only by myself. They are stored separately from any case notes (brief summaries of counselling sessions).
Case notes (brief summaries of counselling sessions) are also stored in a locked filing cabinet, accessed only by myself. On case notes, you are identified as a number so that your anonymity is preserved.
I keep a paper diary to manage my appointments, and you will be referred to within this only by your first name. This diary is stored separately from your personal details and case notes.
I use a mobile phone for the receipt of client phone calls and text messages. I do not hold your number in my contacts under your name, and my phone is password protected.
I use a password protected account for receipt of client emails. This email account is separate from my personal email account.
My website does not hold on to any of your personal information.
Deletion of your Personal Details
I will keep your personal details for one month after counselling has ended in case we have any outstanding administrative issues, or you choose to return. They are then shredded.
Your case notes (summaries of sessions) are kept for 7 years in line with British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) recommendations. They are then shredded.
Any text messages (sent and received) and any emails (sent and received) will also be deleted one month (or earlier) after counselling has ended.
Sharing of Personal Details
Supervision: In line with the requirements of my professional body, the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, my work is regularly supervised by a qualified supervisor. Their role is to ensure that I work ethically and professionally. You are referred to by your first name only in supervision, and conversations between my supervisor and me are confidential.
Therapeutic Will: I have appointed a Therapeutic Executor to attend to my clients in the event of my demise. This Executor is a qualified therapist who is also a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, and therefore committed to client confidentiality. They would contact you to let you know of my demise, and to offer you support where appropriate. My Executor is also responsible for the shredding of all case notes and personal details in this event.
Exceptions to Confidentiality: If I have reason to believe that you or someone else is at risk of serious harm, I will break confidentiality. I would endeavour to discuss this breach with you first, so that we can come to an agreement about who needs to be informed. However, if an agreement is not reached and I still believe that you or someone else is at risk, I will discuss the situation with my supervisor and decide how to proceed. Where a threat of terrorism or drug trafficking is disclosed, I am obliged by law to inform the authorities.
In accordance with GDPR, you have the following rights:
To be informed of the information that I store about you
To ask to see the information that I hold about you (I am legally obliged to respond to any request from a client to see their personal data within 30 days)
To ask that I rectify any information that you deem inaccurate, unnecessary, or incomplete (if I need to keep a record to comply with legal requirements than I may decline this request)
Richard, Online Counselling