General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and Information about you.
In order for me to be able to fulfil my responsibilities as a counsellor to you as my client, I will need to record relevant personal information about you. This information includes your name, address and contact details, including phone number and/or email address and your GP practice and any medication currently being taken.
Should we agree to work together, using an identifying code, I will also take notes of the main issues raised in each counselling session, plus aspects of your personal, social and family history that you choose to share with me which will be kept only as a paper copy in a locked filing cabinet. Personal information and client notes will be retained in separate locations keeping your name and contact details separate from the session notes. This set of notes will include any agreements made with regard to, for example, cancelling sessions, or changes to the way the therapy is conducted. We will also go through my “Counselling Agreement” which we will both sign and retain a copy each.
Even briefer session notes are uploaded in password protected files, on a password protected PC, which is only used by me, and it has a security code to access it and has up to date virus protection software installed. The uploaded anonymised session notes are held within an encrypted iCloud account and I use “two-factor authentication” to access this information so it can only be accessed on my own trusted devices which can be completely erased should they be lost or stolen.
Your full contact details will only be stored on paper (this is also stored in a lockable filing cabinet) and with your permission, your phone number will be stored on my Smart Phone using digital fingerprinting or code to access it, your name will not be displayed, only your unique client code to retain your confidentiality. Agreement on how you wish to be contacted (phone/text/email/letter) will be agreed at the initial session. Personal data such as your full name, address and current date of birth will only be used to verify your identify if there is an urgent need to contact your GP, the emergency services (should the very rare occasion happen where a client collapses during a session), or if you as a client are at serious risk of harm to self or someone else, or a request for access to personal data from yourself, or your representative, or legitimate legal instrument such as a Court Order which can only be actioned by a Judge under a subpoena.
This personal information will be held for a period of three years after the cessation of our counselling relationship, except where there is a mutually agreed decision to retain it for longer or where I believe that it is in my best professional interests to do so.
Your contact details will only be shared in exceptional circumstances with my supervisor, or other named agent, in the event that I am incapacitated so that they can contact you to explain the situation.
I have professional monthly counselling supervision and details of our work together will be shared, using your identifying code, and your first name only with my supervisor for the purpose of maintaining Professional Standards. This aids my counselling professional development which is a requirement for me to work safely and ethically with my clients.
I may make information from these notes available to legitimate third parties only under the following conditions:
- Receipt of a written request from you or your representative, and where the release of the notes is not judged by me as likely to cause you significant harm or harm to another person.
- On the rare occasion where there is a specific legal requirement for me to do so i.e. subpoena by a Judge.
- Where there is an ethical duty for me to do, for example to avoid serious harm to yourself or another person, including the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults and/or contact your GP or local CRISIS Team. This is a rare occurrence and collaboration with the client will be sought. GP details will be asked for at the assessment session, so please let me know if there are any changes with your GP Practice or medication.
- In the unlikely event of a client losing consciousness or becoming seriously ill during a counselling session, or on the premises, as your counsellor I reserve the right to pass your name and address to the relevant emergency services.
- Records of contact between us:
Using a unique client code I will hold your telephone number on my mobile phone for emergency purposes until our counselling relationship ends and then I will delete it from my contact list. However, the phone will retain summary records of calls made to or from your number (date and duration) for a period of time.
- If we agree to communicate by text or by email, these records may be kept for the same duration as your counselling notes. My mobile phone is a smart phone and could therefore also have your texts, and email and email address available on it. The phone is password protected and details are stored in ‘the cloud’ so they can be restored if my phone is lost or stolen.
- Your Rights:
You have the right to ask to see any information held by me about you. To do this please either ask me, or submit a request by writing. You also have the right to ask for information that you believe to be incorrect to be rectified. I will endeavour to provide you with the information requested within four weeks.
- If I become aware of a situation where your personal information may have accidentally or maliciously been obtained by a third party, I will notify you within three days.
- If you are concerned about the way that your information is being held please discuss this with me. If you are still unhappy you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioners Office (ICO).
- This is given in full to each client and signed by the client as me as counsellor.