To carry out my work as a counsellor I hold some information about my clients, and only request information relevant to the counselling service which I provide. I care about your privacy and am committed to protecting it, and hope the following information helps you to trust that I hold your data securely.
I am registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), complying with their guidelines and the 2018 GDPR legislation. A copy of my registration is available via the ICO website – search by my name.
Data you give to me and why I collect it
If you contact me to discuss an initial session you give me contact details such as your name, email address and/or phone number, so that I can reply to your enquiry.
If you continue with counselling sessions I will ask you for some personal information, including brief details of any physical and/or mental health issues and relevant medication, as this may inform our work together.
I will request the name and phone number of an emergency contact so I can get in touch with someone if you are taken ill during a session. I will request your GP’s contact details, explaining that your decision to attend counselling sessions will not usually be disclosed to your GP, however if I believe that you or another person is at risk of serious harm it may be appropriate to contact them, and I would seek your permission before doing so.
I will use your email address to send you confirmation of ongoing appointments and any other information relevant to your sessions. What you have disclosed in your sessions will not be referred to in emails. When requested, invoices and receipts will be sent to you by email.
I will contact you by phone if you have not arrived for a scheduled session, to reply to a text or missed call from you, or if I need to contact you urgently to cancel a session due to my illness or other emergency.
The information you disclose in your sessions will be logged in anonymised session notes.
If you have consented to somebody else arranging or paying for your sessions, I will need their contact details in order to send confirmation of appointments, and/or invoices, and/or receipts of payment as appropriate.
If you are under 16 I will need a parent’s contact details and their consent for me to hold data about you.
What you disclose in your sessions will not be shared with these third parties.
Occasionally other people may wish to share information with me about you, I would inform you of this and it would usually only be with your permission.
How I store your data
I take reasonable security measures to protect your personal data storage. Your name, email address and phone number are stored on a password-protected computer and pin-protected smartphone. Whenever possible I use a code rather than your full name, for example in my appointments diary.
The personal information on the forms you complete when commencing counselling are securely stored in a locked filing cabinet.
The notes I write about what you discuss in your sessions are anonymised without using names or other identifying details, and securely stored separately from your personal details. Your session notes are not saved on any electronic device. Any drawings, diagrams, or other material generated during your sessions may be taken with you after the session, stored with your session notes, or destroyed with your consent.
How long I keep confidential information for
Forms and session notes will be stored for seven years after you end your counselling sessions as this is a requirement of my insurance provider (and in case you wish to return), and then destroyed.
When I share data
Most of the time I will not share your data with third parties without your permission, unless legally required to by a court subpoena.
As a precaution in case of my serious illness or sudden death I share your name and telephone number with a trusted colleague so that she can contact you if I am unable to. Her name is Anneli Nilsson, she is a UKCP accredited psychotherapist following the same professional and ethical guidelines regarding your privacy and confidentiality. Your contact details are shared with her on a secure password-protected file-sharing site.
If you or someone close to you could be at serious risk of harm I may need to break confidentiality by sharing a minimal amount of information with another appropriate professional, such as your GP. I would always discuss this with you first.
Occasionally I may seek explicit consent to record sessions and share a case history in an anonymised form with peers, for the purpose of professional development or advanced training. Anyone agreeing would be asked to sign a consent form after hearing a more detailed explanation of what the process involves.
If there is a data breach affecting the confidentiality or privacy of your personal data I will report this to the ICO and notify you within 72 hours of the breach.
Your rights regarding your data
You have many rights regarding your personal data, including knowing what information I hold about you, and the right to access that data. For further information please visit the Information Commisioner’s Office (ICO) website: https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/
If you wish to see, amend, delete or have a copy of your data please make a request in writing via my email contact form. I will respond within one month of your request.
If you are transferring to another counsellor or psychotherapist a summary of your notes can be provided on request.
If you have a complaint regarding the use of your personal data please contact me directly by email and I will do my best to help you. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction you may make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Their contact details may be found at https://ico.org.uk/