Online Counselling Agreement

Before beginning our work together it is necessary for us to have a working agreement, so that we both know what is required of us. Please carefully read the following information to find out what’s involved.  Please be aware that it is impossible to give a 100% guarantee of complete security or confidentiality when using the internet.

About me:  Babs comes a cropper Profile Pic2
I am a qualified Counsellor and registered member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and work to their ‘Ethical Framework for Counsellors’ www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework  I have specialist training in counselling online (CPCAB Diploma in Online Counselling through OLT) and I am also a member of the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO) and as an online counsellor I adhere to their ‘Code of Ethics’, see www.acto-uk.org/professional-conduct-code-of-ethics/

Online counselling:
The counselling I offer can either be by email or instant messaging.  Initially I would ask you to send an brief (free) email to me at babs.mcdonald@talk-in-herts-counselling.co.uk outlining why you are seeking counselling. I will reply to let you know if online counselling seems appropriate for you and suggest ways we can work together. I will also send you a copy of this agreement and ask you to complete it and return it before counselling can begin. Therapeutic email exchanges are generally one each per week for an agreed period. A weekly time can be booked for instant messaging arrangements. Please see online fees page for charges.

Confidentiality:
All therapeutic work is considered to be confidential. Neither of us must communicate the content of emails to a third party, which includes not putting anything we do together on any social media or blog.

Counsellors are ethically required to have supervision and I may discuss your case but your identity will never be revealed. The only time that I may break confidentiality is if you are at serious risk of causing harm to yourself or others or when I am compelled to do so by law. If at any point during our counselling arrangement I felt that you were in need of emergency support, I may ask for your consent to contact your GP.

Security:
Please ensure that you secure your computer and emails against unauthorised viewing by third parties. It is recommended that you only use a private computer and not a work or public computer.  Please ensure you keep your anti-viral protection up-to-date and I will undertake to do the same.

For your safety I also recommend that we use either a password protected Word document (instructions on how to Password protect a document) or encrypted email software, such as www.safe-mail.net (free) and http://vsee.com for instant messaging or webcam.

All our emails will be stored on my password-protected computer for a period of 6 months. They will then be saved on an external drive, which will be kept in a locked filing cabinet for a period of 2 years. After which time they will be deleted. I am registered under the Data Protection Act (Registration No. Z3101619).

Technology breakdown arrangements:
Should you experience a technical breakdown which prevents you from emailing as agreed, please contact me by mobile (the number will be given to you before commencement of counselling) so that we can discuss how to re-arrange our email exchange. I also undertake to contact you by telephone should I experience a technical breakdown.

Personal crisis procedures:
I cannot provide an emergency service for clients. If you find yourself in a major crisis and were considering serious self-harm it would be vital to get immediate help. This could include contacting your GP, or going to your nearest accident and emergency department (A & E). You could also call the Samaritans on 08457 909090 or visit their website www.samaritans.org

You will be asked to complete the following information below and return it to me as an attachment if you would like to proceed with online counselling:

Full name: ………………………………………………………………………………….

Location: …………………………………………………………………………………..

Emergency contact number (in the event of technology breakdown):

……………………………………………………………………………………..

GP’s name and phone number: (contact is only applicable for situations where clients agree that contact is relevant due to emergency situations rising):

…………………………………………………………………………………………….…………………………………………………………………………………………………

I am over 18 years of age:  Yes/No  (Please delete no to confirm)

Please ‘sign electronically’ here with your name if you agree to working to the points within this agreement:

…………………………………………………………………………….

We cannot begin therapy until receipt of your agreement has been received