Therapeutic interventions, clinical supervision, professional consultations, all involve building and sharing trusting, open communication and positive relationships. In our early discussions I aim to explain who I am, what services I offer, how the sessions are structured, and what information I need from you. This offers you an informed choice about working with me, and enables me to offer you a professional, safe and ethical service. I am responsible for taking the lead on compliance, personal data, information on procedures, dealing with both internal and external access requests and how personal information is collected and used. When I am commissioned by another organisation to provide an intervention, I adhere to both their and my own data protection policies. I do not share your information with other parties without your express permission or outside of the descriptions below. I never sell any personal details.
Why do I need the information I hold?
I need to request and store your details in order to administer and deliver the service you have requested, and to comply with any legal or professional body responsibilities related to delivering that service.
For therapy assessments and interventions for yourself a child or young person, you will be asked to complete a client referral form, which will include the child's full name, date of birth, address, name(s), phone number(s) and email address(es) of parent(s)/carer(s), names/ages of significant family members (e.g. siblings), and invites you to describe the reason for seeking support. You will also be given a contract which outlines the terms and conditions of the work. There is space for you to initial/sign agreement to the various aspects of the work, and doing so will enable the work to begin. You will be given a copy of the signed contract for your records, and I will also hold one on file.
For clinical supervision or professional consultation, I will need to hold on record: your name, phone number and email address. If I write any references for you I will also hold these on file.
Phone number and texts:
The contact phone number(s) you provide me with will be stored on my work mobile phone, using initials or a single name only. The phone is password protected.
I keep and use your email address in regard to the therapy/clinical supervision/related professional work only. Any detailed or private information you choose to send via your email is your choice and responsibility. When corresponding by email I do not use the full name of the child, but use first initial only. If I need to send any lengthy or sensitive information I would endeavour to send this in a password protected document, and the password would be given in a separate email or text. I encourage you to do likewise. I usually send invoices by email, and these are password protected. I store relevant emails for the duration of our work and my email account is password protected.
Written letters, invoices and forms:
To undertake the work fully, safely and professionally, as well as to receive payment, I need to send you and relevant others (such as GPs, paying organisations) letters, invoices and/or other relevant documents. I may also need to receive these from others. I will use the minimal information needed for these to be functional and meaningful. I will store these for my records.
I will write and send detailed reports or letters to you (and/or outside agencies/persons, if you have requested and given your express consent for this) via the encrypted email system described above, or Royal Mail post.
If you pay by BACS please be aware that your chosen reference name/number will appear on my bank records which I must keep for 7 years for HMRC purposes. If I need to print paper statements, and there is identifying information, will endeavour to blank this out where possible.
As a professional I must work within the law and data protection legislation (www.ICO.org.uk), the requirements of my insurer (www.towergateinsurance.co.uk), my professional Body (www.bps.org.uk), my registrant Body (www.HCPC.org.uk) and any organisations you may be linked with such as Education, Health or Social services. Each of these organisations have different recommendations or requirements on retention and storage of notes about therapy and related work. I do write clinical notes to aid my work; these are anonymised using initials only.
Regular clinical supervision is an important part of the therapeutic process, and helps ensure best practice. I visit a skilled clinical supervisor who is bound to the same levels of confidentiality and codes of conduct as myself. There is usually no need for the supervisor to be aware of a client's full identity.
All of these areas listed require me to request, store and write data about you. I hold this information as securely as I can, keeping only what is necessary both before, during and after your therapy has concluded in line with the considerations of all the guidelines and agencies listed above. All paper documents are stored in a locked cabinet, and when it is time to dispose of them I use a high quality shredder. All electronic documents are password protected and where possible, encrypted. My current understanding from the organisations listed above, is that for adults, clinical documents are kept for 3 years beyond the end of therapy, and for children/young people, clinical documents will be kept until 3 years beyond their 18th birthday.
As a professional and ethical practitioner, I will always try to work with you in a way that protects your personal data and confidentiality. The contents of our sessions will only be shared:
1) Where you give consent for the confidence to be broken
2) Where I am compelled by a court of law
3) Where the information you give me is of such gravity that confidentiality cannot be maintained, for example in the case of a safeguarding situation, serious crime or if you are planning to endanger yourself or someone else.
In the rare eventuality of needing to break your confidence, I would always aim to discuss this with you first. If you have any queries please do not hesitate to ask.