Counselling Agreement for Online Therapy

Please read the information below as this sets out the boundaries to our online therapy work together. This is an informed consent form and you are asked to read and agree its acceptance before we can begin therapy work together.

Counselling sessions Zoom

Sessions can be via video (face to face) or telephone calls. You will need access to zoom on your computer or phone which is free to download and set up a username. We will send you our zoom contact details that we use for counselling. You will need to be ready to connect at the agreed time for sessions. We will contact you at the start of each session. Single sessions are 55 minutes long. If we have agreed to more than one session, then a time for the next meeting will be made at the end of the conducted session.

Payment of Sessions

Payments are made prior to counselling sessions starting. Payment for sessions need to be made at least 24 hours before your booked session or it will be considered cancelled. Payments can be made weekly but must be paid 24 hours in advance at the latest. For ease of admin, Monday sessions need to be paid by 6pm UK time on the Friday of the week before.

Late or Missed Sessions and Cancellation

Session are organised for an agreed date and time. If you are late attending the session, we will stay online for 15 minutes to allow for any eventualities. If you do not make contact within this time, then the session will be considered missed and will be cancelled. You will be charged for this. If you are late attending your session, we will still end on the original time for the session. If you wish to cancel a session you are asked to give a minimum of 24 hours notice by either email or SMS. If you miss your agreed session and have not given sufficient notice, then your payment will be kept.

Attending sessions

We work with all clients in a professional manner. We ask that you do not attend therapy sessions under the influence of alcohol or drugs and ask you to dress appropriately for zoom (face to face) sessions.

Session times and Personal Space

Your session times are important, and this is your “space”. Being prepared is an important part of therapy. Ensuring that you are comfortable, having a safe and private space to work from is important and having a pen and paper for you to make notes can be useful. All session times are conducted at an agreed time between you and your therapist. It is also important to be able to give yourself a bit of time and space after each session.

Therapy uses energy and can bring up a host of emotions. Ensuring you have some time after a session is healthy selfcare. Try to make sure you do not have to rush off for an appointment or pick up the children straight away, having a cup of tea or a glass of water and doing something pleasurable for 5 – 10 mins can help.

Your therapist will talk with you about this during initial assessment.

Reviews and Ending sessions

Part of the therapy process involves regular reviews between yourself and your therapist. This is to ensure that work is progressing and that you are still getting what you need from the sessions. All therapy comes to an end at some point. Regular reviews help with appropriately planned endings as this is an important part of the therapy process.

Technical Difficulties

If technical difficulties are experienced, for example computer or internet breakdown we will undertake to contact each other via text (SMS) message so that an alternative session can be made.

Confidentiality, anonymity and breeching

The work we do together is confidential. However, there are particular circumstances in which as therapists we can break confidentiality, and this comes under the code of ethical guidelines for counsellors. A need for breaking confidentiality focuses on keeping you as the client and others safe from harm. If through our work together, there is a genuine risk for your safety or the safety of others then we have a duty of care to raise that concern with appropriate professionals to support you further. We will always explore this with you first.

Discussing your Therapy

Our work together is confidential. We ensure that all information is kept safe and protected. We ask that you do the same. It would not appropriate to post/share onto social networks/forums any written correspondence between us from our work together.

Dual Relationship

As therapists we aim to develop a trusting and friendly working relationship, however, as a therapist we are not a “friend”. To maintain the confidentiality and the boundaries of our work it is not appropriate to engaged “socially” on any social network, social or professional forums.

Computer Privacy, Safety and Data Protection

When working online it is important to maintain security through reasonable measures to ensure confidentiality and safe working procedures. Firewall and Antivirus – these can be installed to protect your software and hardware from third parties or viruses. MCAfee and Norton antivirus protection are available. Encryption – using encryption allows information that you send or receive to be kept confidential.

Password Protection – Many of us have our own personal computer, ensuring you have a password gives you extra security so that others do not gain access to your documents and information you have stored. If you have access to a shared computer, then is it important you have your own personal password that other people do not have access too. Saving information to your own password protected key/ dongle gives you added security. Own personal security – please ensure that you have a private and safe space in which to have your sessions and that you will not be disturbed whilst in session.

Data Protection

When we have completed our work, all material such as email exchanges etc are removed from the computer and safely stored on a password protected memory stick. Any electronic records of our work will be deleted at the end of our contracted work. All transcripts, counselling emails and notes that are made as part of our work are owned by the therapist.

Please do not post extracts or whole copies of our communication on social forums or third parties. General note – although security measures are put in place and regularly reviewed, Governments have programs which can snoop on internet traffic. This means that emails and live sessions can be intercepted, although this is unlikely. Encrypted communications are not easily read and offers a high level of security.

Emergency contacts

Online counselling is not suitable if you are experiencing an enduring mental health illness or are experiencing acute distress. If you feel you are in crisis or are in danger of harming yourself then is it imperative that you contact the emergency services for help or go to your nearest A&E department. Please see the Emergency Contacts resource list for crisis support.

In an emergency:

Call 999

Go to your local A&E department

If you are in crisis and need to speak to someone:

Call NHS 111 (for when you need help but are not in immediate danger)

Contact your GP and ask for an emergency appointment