Frequently Asked Questions
"Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way. "
- Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.
What is counselling about?
For more information about counselling just click here
What Conditions Can it Help?
Counselling can usually help most people. The main thing is having the motivation to explore yourself. There may be some issues more helpfully dealt with by specialist organisations, e.g. active substance dependency or a severe and enduring mental health diagnosis to name just a couple. If I feel that your needs would be better served with a specialist organisation, then I would discuss this with you in the initial session.
What to expect from an initial session?
An initial session is an exploration of who you are and what you would like to discuss or work on in future sessions. It is usually a time to see if you are comfortable working with me. There are usually discussions about what your expectations are/ would be of the process, you can ask as many questions about this as you like. Then, if you are comfortable, we contract for however many sessions we both think is appropriate in order to carry out the work you have identified. We would also talk about confidentiality, supervision and professional ethics and boundaries.
This is also the time to talk about costs and concessions.
What about confidentiality?
Under normal circumstances, your right to confidentiality will be completely respected. You need to be aware that, like all therapists I discuss my work with a qualified supervisor. My supervisor would be bound by the same requirements for confidentiality. The only time I would consider breaking confidentiality is if I am concerned about your, or other peoples', safety. In such cases, I would always let you know beforehand that I intended to contact the relevant people.
How much is this going to cost me?
I usually charge ₤50 per 50 minute session, and sometimes have a few concessionary places open. If you are on a low income, please ask about availability of these at first contact.
I know that people's incomes can go up as well as down, should this happen whilst in therapy please do talk about it. We may be able to readjust arrangements to suit your changing circumstances.
Payment can be made by cash or bank transfer and is due on the day of your appointment.
How long will I need to come for?
The amount of time spent in therapy depends on several factors, the most important being the nature of the difficulty bringing you to counselling. At the initial consultation, we can discuss whether it would be more appropriate to have short term, solution focused work or more longer term therapy.
What if I can't make an appointment?
Please call to cancel as soon as possible. If I can reasonably offer an alternative within the same week, there will be no additional charge.
If you cancel within 24 hours of your scheduled appointment, unfortunately I will have to charge for a missed appointment.
How does therapy end?
Usually we decide on that together, sometimes even building that into the initial contract if we decide short term work is more suited to your needs.
When you are satisfied that you have gone as far as you want to for now, we have an ending session to celebrate all your achievements, look at "what next" for you and what the professional relationship has meant for both of us.
The following statement will be discussed at our assessment session and a consent form will be signed to show your agreement to the way your information is kept, how it is processed, how long it is kept for and for what purposes.
In order for me to be able to fulfil my responsibilities as a Counsellor I will need to record personal information about you. This information includes your name, address, phone number, email address, contact person with phone number and GP Practice. I will also take assessment information which will include relevant medical information and aspects of your education, personal and family history that you choose to share with me. This information is retained in a locked filing cabinet. Your contact details will be used to contact you. Other personal information such as your name, address and date of birth may be used to verify your identity if there is a need to contact your GP or a request for access to personal data from yourself, or your representative or legitimate legal instrument such as a court order.
This personal information will be held for a period of 7 years after the cessation of our counselling relationship, except where there is a mutually agreed decision to retain it for longer. If I am working with a child, under the age of 18, the information will be held until they are 25 years of age. If the work continues beyond the age of 18 the information is held for 7 years, which may go beyond their 25th birthday.
In the event of my incapacitation or death your contact details will be available to my Supervisor who will use them to advise you of the situation.
I record notes of the therapy session using a reference number. These are brief, factual notes of the session. These will include a record of any cancelled session. The notes are held in a locked filing cabinet and kept separate from your contact details.
These notes may be shared with my Supervisor or counselling professional body but only your first name is used to protect your identity. This is for the purpose of maintaining professional standards and aiding my professional development.
In exceptional circumstances, I may need to contact my insurance company and provide client information. Consequently, full client information and details may need to be provided if the situation warrants it, for example if there is a possibility of a claim or a complaint. My Supervisor will then have access to this information as well.
These notes will be held for a period of 7 years after the cessation of our counselling relationship, except where there is a mutually agreed decision to retain it for longer. If I am working with a child, under the age of 18, the information will be held until they are 25 years of age. If the work continues beyond the age of 18 the information is held for 7 years, which may go beyond their 25th birthday.
I may make information from your notes available to legitimate third parties under the following conditions:
Receipt of a request from you or your representative, and where the release of the notes is not judged by me to as likely to cause you significant harm or harm to another person
Where there is a legal requirement to do so, i.e. if I am given a court order to supply information
If a disclosure is made by you with regard to knowledge of, or participation in, acts of terrorism, drug money laundering or failure to report a road traffic accident
Where there is an ethical duty for me to do so, for example to avoid serious harm to yourself or another person, including the safeguarding of children or vulnerable adults.
Records of contact between us
I will hold your name and contact details on my phone until our counselling relationship ends and will delete it from my contact list after one year. However, the phone will retain summary records of calls/texts made to or from your number and any recorded messages for the period of its data storage life.
If we agree to communicate by text or email, these records may be kept for the same duration as your counselling notes. My mobile phone is a smart phone and may therefore have your texts, emails and email address on it. The phone is password protected. Emails are stored in ‘the cloud’ so they can be restored if the phone is lost or stolen. If the phone is lost or stolen the information held on you will be restored via the back- up system of ‘the cloud’.
Your name, contact details and email address may also be used for invoicing purposes.
You have the right to see any information about you. Please ask me directly or submit a request in 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 within 4 weeks of the request.
If I become aware of a situation where your 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 stored please discuss it with me.
If you are still unhappy you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioners Office where I am registered.