— Last updated: February 3, 2021 —
At The Process Space Counselling and Psychotherapy, it is important to us that our clients can relax in knowing that their therapy with us is a safe and private place to talk about their experiences. We therefore operate a strict policy of confidentiality where everything the client shares with their therapist is kept entirely private, unless it falls outside the boundaries of confidentiality as defined by the law and the Ethical Framework of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) to which we adhere.
This document sets out the confidentiality policy of The Process Space Counselling and Psychotherapy, including defining confidentiality within the service, outlining the exceptions to confidentiality as per the law and the Ethical Framework of the BACP, and accessing records.
Confidentiality Within the Service
- Confidentiality within The Process Space Counselling and Psychotherapy entails not disclosing to any third parties anything that clients say, including any identifying material, unless it falls outside the boundaries of confidentiality (outlined below).
- The Process Space Counselling and Psychotherapy service offers its clients the highest level of confidentiality consistent with the law and the Ethical Framework of the BACP. This protects our clients from the voluntary disclosure of confidences without the client’s permission unless legally or professionally required to do so.
- The professional management of confidentiality requires the protection of personally identifiable and sensitive information from unauthorised disclosure.
- Counsellors at The Process Space Counselling and Psychotherapy Service are accountable to their clients and to their profession for their management of confidentiality in general and, particularly, for any disclosures made without their client’s consent.
- The requirement to respect client confidentiality also continues after the counselling relationship has ended.
- The Process Space Counselling and Psychotherapy Service will ensure that all client records are kept secure so that only authorised persons can gain access to them.
- All members and ex-members of The Process Space Counselling and Psychotherapy Service are required to protect the anonymity of all individuals who have been or still are clients of the service. This includes an obligation to refrain from all verbal or written references by which our clients may be identifiable, unless the client has given consent to do so.
- Counsellors are professionally required to have regular supervision with an experienced and appropriately qualitied supervisor. Client confidentiality is maintained within the supervisory framework, and where certain content and process of sessions are disclosed, the Supervisor is in turn bound by confidentiality.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
There are circumstances in which the Counselling Service cannot legally or ethically maintain confidentiality within the service. Wherever possible, The Process will make every attempt to communicate first with the client explaining the reasons for the need to pass on information and to whom this will be given. These exceptions are listed below and would quality as areas of authorised disclosure:
Serious Harm to Self or Another: If planned serious harm to the life of self or another person is disclosed we have a duty to pass this on the the appropriate authority (GP, Police, Ambulance service, etc.) in order to do all that is possible to see the person protected.
Safeguarding Children: If information is disclosed that a child is at risk of significant harm, The Service has a duty under the Children Act, 2007 to pass on this information to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) in order to do what is possible to see the child protected.
Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults: If there is a serious risk of harm/abuse to a vulnerable adult, The Service has a duty of protectuion to such vulnerable adults. Information may need to be passed on to the appropriate agencies in order to protect vulnerable adults who could be at risk.
Offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, 1987: If information is given on any planned act of terrorism, The Service is, by law, obliged to report this to the Police without informing the person who gave the information.
Court Cases: In the event of a Court case, the Judge has power to subpoena a client’s counselling notes, or request that a counselling report is provided as evidence for the case.
Drug Money Laundering: The Service has a duty to disclose any information given in regards to the laundering of drug money.
Road Traffic Accidents: The Service does not have a duty to initiate disclosure of information known in regards to road traffic incidents. However, if the Police contact us as part of such inquiries, we have a duty to pass on any information relevant to that road traffic incident.
Hearsay Witness to Murder: There is no legal requirements for The Service to initiate the disclosure of any information in which a client allegges being witness to or causing muder/manslaughter. However, it may be appropriate for the Counsellor to encourage the client to disclose information to the Police. If the Police contact us as part of such inquiries, we would have a duty to pass on any relevant information about the alleged murder.
Complaints: If a Counsellor or The Service is formally accused of wrongful conduct, then the need for the Counsellor to divulge information about a client is recognised in order for the matter to be investigated. The breaking of confidentiality will be kept to a minimum, in consultation with advisors. The Counsellor will continue to have regard for the wellbeing of the client.
Counselling Records and Counselling Notes
- Counsellors and the Counselling Service maintain administrative and clinical records of all contact with clients of the Service.
- All notes will be kept securely where they are only accessible to the Counselling Service, and only where there is a clinical or administrative need to do so.
- Notes may be kept on paper or in a digital format. All reasonable steps are taken to ensure that they cannot be accessed inappropriately.
- Notes are stored for 6 years and then are securely and confidentially shredded or deleted.
- Counsellors will take care to ensure that all notes are written respectfully, created for a clear purpose, as neutral as possible, and as brief and accurate as they can be.
Rights to Confidential Client Records
There are situations in which counsellors may be required by law to submit their handwritten counselling process notes for investigation.
A solicitor’s letter requesting disclosure of client information is not sufficient to obtain disclosure of confidential client records. A court order is required before disclosure of such material can be obtained.
Clients who access our service have a right to see information stored about them. If a client wishes to read or have a copy of this information, it is recommended that they should initially discuss this with the counsellor.
The Counselling Service will not provide access to client records if requested by third parties, unless this is with the explicit written consent of the client, or unless directed by a court order. In no circumstances will the original copies of notes be provided to the client or any other party, even with the consent of the client.
Clients are encouraged to raise any concerns they may have about the counselling they receive with their counsellor in the first instance. The counsellor will respond quickly to any complaints made and seek to correct any errors on our part.
If no resolution is gained or the client is unhappy with the resolution, then the client is encouraged to take the complaint to the BACP Complaints Department.
Changes to this Comment Policy
We may update this Policy from time to time. We will notify clients of any changes made, prior to the change becoming effective and update the “Last updated” date at the top of this Comment Policy.
You are advised to review this policy periodically for any changes. Changes to this policy are effective when they are posted on this page