So as to be able to provide you with the best possible counselling service I may need to hold your personal contact details and records. Your privacy is very important to me and you can be confident that your personal information will be kept safe and secure and will only be used for the purpose it was given to me. I adhere to current data protection legislation, including the General Data Protection Regulation (EU/2016/679) (the GDPR), the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
This privacy notice tells you what I will do with your personal information from initial point of contact through to after your therapy has ended, including:
I am happy to chat through any questions you might have about my data protection policy and you can contact me via email or phone, details of which can be found on the contact page of my website.
‘Data controller’ is the term used to describe the person/ organisation that collects and stores and has responsibility for people’s personal data. In this instance, the data controller is me and I am registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The GDPR states that I must have a lawful basis for processing your personal data. There are different lawful bases depending on the stage at which I am processing your data. I have explained these below:
If you have had counselling with me and it has now ended, I will use legitimate interest as my lawful basis for holding and using your personal information.
If you are currently having counselling or if you are in contact with me to consider counselling, I will process your personal data where it is necessary for the performance of our contract.
The GDPR also makes sure that I look after any sensitive personal information that you may disclose to me appropriately. This type of information is called ‘special category personal information’. The lawful basis for me processing any special categories of personal information is that it is for provision of health treatment (in this case counselling) and necessary for
a contract with a health professional (in this case, a contract between me and you).
When you contact me with an enquiry about my counselling services I will collect information to help me satisfy your enquiry. This will include your name, so that I can book the appointment into my diary, and also a method of contact such as an email address or phone number. Alternatively, your GP or other health professional may send me your details when making a referral or a parent or trusted individual may give me your details when making an enquiry on your behalf.
If you make an enquiry but then decide not to proceed I will ensure all your personal data is deleted within one month. If you would like me to delete this information sooner, just let me know.
While you are accessing counselling.
I will use your email address and/or phone number to provide you with confirmation of your appointment times. Unless we have agreed that I will use your email address to forward you additional information relevant to your counselling sessions, I will only use your email address and phone number to contact you about appointment times.
At your first appointment I will ask you to complete a Personal Details Form containing your name, address, date of birth, contact information and also contact information for your GP. This form will be stored in a locked filing cabinet that can only be accessed by me and the cabinet is located in an office that is locked when I am not using it.
I am a Member of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) and I abide by their professional code of ethics. In accordance with these ethics and with current legislation, there are limitations to the level of confidentiality that I am able to hold but rest assured that I will only break confidentiality if there are significant legal or ethical obligations for me to do so: namely, if, in my clinal judgement, I believe that your own life is at risk of serious harm; if you disclose that harm is being carried out to another person; if you disclose information about criminal activity such as money laundering or terrorism; or, if a court of law requires me to disclose such information. Unless there are safeguarding issues that prevent me from doing so, I will always aim to speak with you before needing to break confidentiality.
In addition, please note that counsellors are required to have regular supervision. In a counselling context ‘supervision’ means that I meet with a highly experienced and qualified counsellor, an individual who also abides by the BACP’s code of ethics regarding confidentiality, to ensure that I am working safely and ethically, and to ensure that I am putting your welfare at the heart of my work. You need to be aware of this because I may need to discuss with my supervisor, elements of what you disclose to me in your counselling sessions: in discussions with my supervisor I would not identify you personally by name.
For the purpose of assisting our work together I will keep brief notes of the counselling sessions. The notes are for my use only and they help me to keep track of the issues that we are working on. The notes will be stored securely in a locked filing cabinet that only I have access to and the cabinet is located in an office that is locked when I am not using it. Notes are not disclosed to third parties with the following exception: in rare cases courts of law can demand that counsellors hand over client notes.
After counselling has ended.
There are reasons why counsellors are required to keep records after counselling has ended: for example, in the case of financial transactions personal information must be retained for accounting and tax purposes.
So that I can continue to offer you an efficient service if you make contact after therapy has ended I will retain your notes for up to a maximum of seven years after which time they will be confidentially destroyed. During this time they will be stored securely in a locked filing cabinet that only I have access to. If you would like me to confidentially destroy this information sooner, then just let me know, but please be aware that from time to time counsellors are compelled by a court of law, to retain the records for a longer period.
In order to provide counselling services to you and to fulfil legal obligations in respect of tax and accounting purposes I share a limited amount of personal data with third parties, for example, my accountant is permitted access to my invoices and bank account statements.
Where I have contracted with a supplier to carry out tasks I have carefully selected which organisations I work with. I state that they do not use your information in any way other than the task for which they have been contracted. I will never pass on your contact details to any third party organisations for the purposes of sales, marketing or research.
If your appointments are paid for or arranged via a third party, for example, your employer, the only information shared with the third party for invoicing and payment purposes, is the dates of attendance and non-attendance. Details about what is discussed in your counselling sessions will remain confidential, within the limitations of confidentiality outlined above, and details will only be shared with third parties if you give me your written consent to do so.
Under the GDPR guidelines you have the following rights: The right to request access to the personal information that I store and process about you. You can ask for corrections to be made to the information held or for your personal information to be deleted. You can also ask me to restrict the processing of your personal information or to object to the processing of it altogether in some circumstances. You can read more about your rights at ico.org.uk/your-data-matters.
If I do hold information about you I will:
If you would like to make a request relating to any of the rights above, please send a request in writing by email. Please be aware that in certain situations counsellors may be unable to comply with the above requests: for example, if compelled to retain the records by a court of law. Please also be aware that there may be a charge for complying with a request if it is deemed to be excessive in nature.
If you have any complaint about how I handle your personal data please do not hesitate to get in touch with me by writing or email. I would welcome any suggestions for improving my data protection procedures.
If you would like to make a formal complaint about the way I have processed your personal information you can contact the ICO which is the statutory body that oversees data protection law in the UK. For more information go to ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint.
I take the security of the data that I hold about you very seriously and as such I take every effort to make sure it is kept secure. My email account is password protected and the mobile phone and computer/laptop that I use to respond to your emails, have anti-virus software and are password protected. If it is not necessary to keep it, any email correspondence will be deleted within one month. If it is necessary to retain the information I will print the email and store it securely in a locked filing cabinet. Similarly any physical notes that I make will be stored in a locked filing cabinet in a locked office that only I have access to.
Visitors to this website
By accessing the website, you are consenting to the information collection and use practices described in this privacy notice. If website visitors contact me through the details listed on this website, they do so at their own discretion and provide any personal details at their own risk. I use legitimate interests as the lawful basis for holding and using your personal information in this way when you visit my website.
If visitors would like to deny the use and saving of cookies from this website onto their computers hard drive, they are advised to take the necessary steps within their web browsers security settings, to block all cookies from this website and its external serving vendors or, if available, to use a cookie control system upon their first visit.
No user-specific data is collected by me or any third party.
External Website Links & Third Parties
To enhance user experience, external links from trusted third parties, are sometimes embedded within this website. However you should be aware that such links often come with their own cookies and since I do not control them I cannot guarantee what they do. Although I only look to include quality, safe and relevant external links, users are advised to adopt a policy of caution before clicking any external web links or shortened URL links mentioned throughout this website. Users are encouraged to verify the authenticity of such links before proceeding.
Despite my best effort, I cannot guarantee or verify the contents of any externally links. Users should therefore note they click on external links at their own risk for I cannot be held liable for any damages or implications caused by visiting any external links mentioned.