Your privacy is very important to me and you can be confident that your personal information will be kept safe and secure and will only be used for the purpose it was given to me. I comply with the terms of the General Data Protection regulation (GDPR) and to the responsible and secure use of your data. The purpose of this policy is to let you know what personal information I collect and hold, why I collect this data, how long it is stored for and your rights over your personal data. Morning Star Counselling is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), reference: ZB155066
Information about you
I collect personal information from you when you enquire about the counselling services to set up an initial telephone consultation. This information includes contact details, your availability and other relevant personal information. If you choose to go ahead with counselling, we then discuss a working counselling agreement which I will ask you to sign before we can start therapy. This agreement covers my commitment to client confidentiality and data protection and the circumstances in which confidentiality would need to be breached.
The personal information I will collect is as follows:
Date of birth, address, contact number, email address, emergency contact details, GP contact details (with your permission) and details and medications for any relevant mental or physical health issues.
Use of this information:
Your data will be used only to provide you with my counselling service and to give you information relating to this service. I will not share your details with any other person or organisation without your knowledge and permission unless there is a legal requirement as stated in our counselling agreement. A breach of confidentiality is when a person shares information with another in circumstances where it is reasonable to expect that the information will be kept confidential.
Security and Storage
I will take all reasonable precautions to prevent the loss, misuse or alteration of information you give me. My website does not hold on to any of your personal information. I hold the personal information listed above in a locked filing cabinet, accessed only by myself. I allocate each client a client number to preserve anonymity. I use this client number when I take case notes (brief summaries of counselling sessions) which are stored securely in a locked filing cabinet, accessed only by myself. The client number is used in my diary to manage appointments and is stored separately from client personal details and case notes. I use a dedicated mobile phone for client telephone calls and messages which is password protected and client names are not stored under ‘contacts’. I hold the business email address: email@example.com which is password protected for communicating with clients.
Whilst I endeavour to keep my systems and communications protected against viruses and other harmful effects, I cannot bear responsibility for all communications being virus-free. Once a client finishes counselling, I will keep the personal information details, emails (sent and received) and text messages for one month in case of administration issues or if you choose to return to counselling. After that date, this information will be destroyed. Any case notes will be stored securely for 7 years in line with the professional body British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) recommendations and then destroyed.
Sharing of Information:
In line with the requirements of the BACP, my work is regularly supervised by a qualified supervisor whose role is to ensure that I am working professionally and ethically. When attending supervision and discussing my client work, I refer to my clients only by their first name and any discussions between my supervisor and myself are confidential.
Exceptions to Confidentiality
If I have reason to believe that my client or someone else if at risk of serious harm, I will need to break confidentiality. I would endeavour to discuss this with my client first to try to agree who needs to be informed. However, if agreement could not be reached and someone is understood to be at risk of serious harm, I will contact my supervisor to decide how best to proceed. There are also legal limits to confidentiality and where a threat of terrorism or drug trafficking is concerned, I am obliged by law to inform the authorities.
Your rights over your personal data
If you would like to see the information I hold about you, or would like to correct, update or delete any records, please contact me directly on 07519 830721 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. (If I need to keep a record to comply with legal requirements then I may decline this request). If you have any concerns about my use of your data, please contact me and I will do my utmost to resolve any concerns you have. If for any reason I cannot resolve the issues you may choose to contact the ICO directly.