As a BACP registered Counsellor I require certain information about my clients in order to provide a service to them. Therefore, it is legitimate for me to hold personal details in relation to my work, where you have voluntarily and knowingly provided it to me. However, I am required to tell you: • what data I am collecting from you • what I will use that data for • how I will store the data • how you can get access to your data • how I will dispose of the data
What data do I keep and what do I use it for? I collect information about my clients and students in a number of different ways. I ask for contact and other referral information when you first approach me and use this information to help me provide a service to you, further the work we do together, and keep a record of our communications. If you make regular payments to me I may need information to help me administer these ayments, including your name, address, email and telephone number. When I am working with clients and in case of an emergency during a session, I request an additional contact name and telephone number. I also keep the name of your GP and their contact details, however I will only use this information where absolutely necessary and after consultation with you.
I make notes of our sessions together and also during my supervision sessions (you will not be personally identified in supervision sessions). My notes are brief, hand written, made at the end of each session and you cannot be identified by them. They include details of what you would like to gain from therapy. These notes are a way of recording what happens in our collaborative work together so that I can provide a safe, ethical service.
Are there any circumstances where my data might be shared?
On occasions where I am jointly facilitating therapeutic or learning groups with other professionals or organisations, information shared about participants with those professionals will be limited to the minimum necessary for effective and safe facilitation of the learning or therapy. Any other professionals involved in facilitating such groups will be subject to the same legal requirements and expected to adhere to the same privacy policies as myself.
Otherwise, it is very unlikely that I will share your individual data with others, and I will definitely not sell it or use it for unethical purposes.
The only exceptions to sharing data in counselling or therapy are:
if I am obliged to share information by a court of law, or to represent myself in a legal dispute
when I am expected, by law/my professional association, to break confidentiality where there is a risk of serious harm to you as a client or supervisee, or to the safety of others
if children or vulnerable adults are involved and at risk. In such a situation I would contact your GP, the emergency or social services as necessary
where I am required to comply with Safeguarding legislation, Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection, Traffic, Money Laundering, and Terrorism legislation
In all these situations I would try hard to contact and discuss this with you beforehand.
Will I share or obtain client information on the internet? On occasions I may add information or images to my web-site or Instagram account relating to my work, but I will never include information that personally identifies individual clients, either in writing or images. If, however, clients volunteer testimonials or images, they will be anonymised unless specifically requested otherwise.
How will I store your data? Client information/referral sheets and sessions notes will all be kept securely in a lockable filing cabinet in my office. Notes taken following sessions are hand written, with the date and session number also recorded.
If we communicate by e-mail or telephone, your telephone number and email address may sometimes be kept on my computer or mobile phone; I take reasonable security precautions with these devices and they are password protected.
Do you have a right to see the information that I hold?
Yes, you do. If you ask me for the information that I hold about you, I am legally bound to give you a copy free of charge within one month of your request. You have a right to correct any factual inaccuracies in your information and you can ask me to stop using it whenever you wish, although this may affect our ability to work together.
How long will I store your data, and how will I dispose of it? I will keep your session notes and your name for 6 years following the end of your therapy, which is in line with guidelines from my professional organisation and insurance company. Your personal information, collected on my initial referral/information form, will be destroyed within 12 months of our final session together and your telephone number and email address will also be deleted from my electronic devices within 6 months of our work ending or earlier if you request it.
What if you have been referred via another organisation? If this organisation has policies which differ from mine I will comply with their policies as well as my own. It is possible that they may have given me more information than I would normally collect, for example your place of work and a reference number. I may need this information when I am sending my invoice to the organisation so they can recognise your case. This information is usually contained in an email and I will delete this extra data once our sessions have concluded and the organisation has reimbursed me for our work together.
Our Contract/Agreement and Consent When we contract to work together and draw up our agreement for this, you consent to me using your data in this way when we both sign the contract. The contract explains that I will always treat your personal details with care and respect but if you do not wish me to use your data in the ways I have described here, it is unlikely that I will be able to work with you.
Sending you information I will ensure that if you request printed or verbal information from me, I will only send or give what is relevant for our work together and the services I provide. I will supply this information by post, email or telephone, depending on your expressed preferences. My communications to you will be limited to those necessary for the period I am providing a service to you, unless you specifically agree to, or initiate, further ongoing contact.
Jenny Chesher MBACP May 2018
The images on this web-site are illustrative of client sessions but do not depict actual clients, whose confidentially is of the utmost importance to me. Thanks to Craig Stone Photography for his stunning images.