Tel: 01707 707957
Mobile: 07508 934271
Please let me know a good time to call you back. I aim to return calls on the same day
Other useful contact links:
Many of my clients work abroad for periods of the year so attending weekly sessions in person isn’t always possible. Video link, email and telephone sessions make it possible to continue our work without interruption.
Privacy and Digital Policy 1.3
This document is aimed at helping you stay safe in your communications with me, both over the telephone and the internet. I’m happy to provide clarification should you need it. The policy also provides information that is important to your counselling process.
The changes in the way we communicate in the 21st-century, especially via the Internet and smartphones, are leading to an increased need to protect personal data and privacy. There have been many breaches of data over recent years. Google is in trouble for seeking access to NHS data. Firms such as TalkTalk have been fined for data breaches and the recent Facebook breach for Cambridge analytical accessing user’s data have all led to changes in the Data Protection Act and the way companies process and look after your information.
How I use your data
I adhere to the general data protection regulations (GDPR) and do not share your data with anyone. I do have supervision where I discuss my work. My supervisor is also bound by the data protection regulations, ethics and confidentiality. I do not use identifying information when I discuss you in supervision. I may also need to talk to a GP but my client will always be aware beforehand.
I will be transparent about how I process any data I hold about you. I currently hold the following details: email -addresses and messages, mobile telephone numbers, Skype user names, Dropbox paperwork, Paypal details, session notes plus messages I may have received via text, Whatsapp or other means. You can request that any information I have on you be deleted at any time. I keep notes of our sessions to inform and enhance the work. I usually keep these notes for 7 years and then delete the, holding an abridged version for another year. If you do not want this to be the case please inform me.
I use the Google calendar for appointment reminders that reach you via email. I will already have asked your permission for this but if you would like me to stop this at any point please ask. I invite you in, if you have agreed, to my Google calendar application via your chosen email address. This is the application that sends you reminders of appointments. You can stop this at any time by letting me know that you no longer wish me to remind you of appointments.
Whilst I can be responsible for the data I hold, process and store about you, outside organisations and businesses are a separate concept. This includes Paypal, BACS payments, “You Can Book Me”, Google Calendar and Email, Evernote, Dropbox, Skype, Facetime and Whatsapp. What I can do is be conscientious and data protection aware my end. If you pay me using PayPal, Payacontact, BACS or by card machine in the session, there is a record of your name and your account details within those servers.
How I store your data
I use a digitally searchable notebook for handwriting session notes. I scan these into an application called Evernote which is kept in a ‘cloud’. My Evernote account is protected by encryption and a password. Once my Evernote notebook is full it is shredded in a cross-shredder.
I keep documents in an application called Dropbox, which is also the place where I share useful papers with you. This is also a cloud-based application and is protected by a password my end.
Postal, email addresses and telephone numbers are kept within my Gmail contacts account. This app is passworded and has a double protection inasmuch as it can’t be signed into unless I’ve cleared it via my phone which is protected by my fingerprint. I’ve taken steps to protect my information in the event of a device I own being stolen or lost.
Email – Privacy, Security and Confidentiality:
I am not currently using an e-mail encryption programme. However whenever possible, Gmail protects information by using Transport Layer Security (TLS) to automatically encrypt emails you send or receive. Be aware that TLS doesn’t work with messages from some email services. I have an information leaflet should you wish to look into encrypting your email.
Emails may be vulnerable to viruses, unintended forwarding, replication or human error. For this reason, it is best to be thoughtful about what you include in emails to me. It is best to rely on email for non-confidential communications like setting up appointment times etc. I recommend that we keep confidential and psychological material “in the room” unless we discuss it beforehand. In the event that we are doing an email session (where video conferencing isn’t possible), you may like to consider whether putting sensitive session material into email is a wise idea. If you’re not happy to do this perhaps you would like to write a word document and put it into your Dropbox folder. I will provide you with details of this.
I will always request your preferred email address. If you choose to communicate with me by email, please be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of Internet Service Providers, ISP’s. If you are concerned about the confidentiality of your emails, you may wish to contact me by landline or mobile phone instead.
Format of email counselling: The process consists of a maximum of 3 emails each way.
Invoices and Receipts
If you have requested an invoice or receipt, you need to be aware that I send these to your chosen e-mail address. If you would prefer not to receive these invoices by email, please inform me and I will provide you a printed copy, or place them in your Dropbox.
Video Conferencing and Telephone sessions:
These types of sessions may be necessary because of distance, where there are childcare issues or during bad weather conditions. I make every effort to choose video conferencing software that is adequately encrypted. This may involve you downloading some software or logging into a web-based application.
I will maintain confidentiality my end but you will need to think about the confidentiality of the setting you use for this. It’s your responsibility to ensure they take place in a confidential setting, away from other people, children and pets. When engaging this way, we both agree not to use any recording devices for sessions.
Technical Stuff: Before videoconferencing it’s important to make sure you meet the technical requirements. Download rate should be at least 10mbit and upload, 2mbit. Test your connection here. http://www.speedtest.net/
Security: There is controversy over whether Skype is secure. You may use it if you prefer but I would suggest you use the information in this document to help you make an informed decision.
Equipment: I would recommend you use headphones when possible to stop the feedback and cut down on the noise that’s transmitted from your end. This might include sounds and interference like feedback.
In the event of technical failure: Should technology let us down, battery failure on the device your end or internet connection failure; we need to have an alternative in place so we can continue our session. May I suggest we use the landline and that you call me when the connection is lost? Should the problem be rectified we can revert to the video conferencing. The landline number is 01707 707957.
Where possible I prefer to use Facetime for video conferencing as it’s reported to be more secure and fully encrypted. I maintain the highest degree of confidentiality with client information and only conduct sessions from private locations. It is recommended that you do the same. Please let me know if you do not have an Apple device and do not want to use Skype as we will need to arrange an alternative. One such alternative is Hangouts – free for Google+ users.
As a general rule, I like to keep clinical work in the consultation room as much as possible. The nature of an online presence can blur interpersonal boundaries. It is important to be as clear as possible about how boundaries may be challenged in an online environment.
The nature of the digital world can stretch boundaries, so I offer the following information:
Twitter and LinkedIn: I maintain a business Twitter and LinkedIn profile as a way of promoting my counselling practice, and to make people aware of my workshops and conferences. Despite my online presence, I would prefer that our relationship remain as much as possible in the consultation room. I will not knowingly ‘follow’ any current or former client or supervisee on Twitter.
Whether you follow me or not is of course at your discretion, though I would suggest for reasons of confidentiality and preserving our therapeutic relationship that you do not. I have decided that it would not be appropriate to add current or former clients or supervisees as “connections” on LinkedIn.
Facebook: I maintain a private Facebook account. I aim to keep my Facebook as private as possible and it would not be appropriate to be Facebook “friends” with former or current clients or supervisees. I acknowledge that there can be some overlap across social networks, and that this sometimes comes to light on Facebook. If this were the case, it would be something we would need to discuss in session. I am happy for you to follow my business page.
Contacting me out of hours
Please be aware that my email and mobile phone are turned off outside of my working week which is Monday to Thursday 10:30 AM to 9 PM. In the event to the emergency or crisis please telephone my landline as I pick these up periodically. As I cannot promise an immediate response, an alternative would be to contact your GP or the Samaritans. Other than in the case of an emergency it is best to keep the work within the room.
I agree to Heart 2 Herts Counselling holding the following data about me. (Please cross through what you do not give permission for)
Postal and email address, telephone number(s), paperwork including confirmation emails and letters, session notes, calendar invites, Dropbox papers, text messages, including Whatsapp or other media you have contacted me via.
The world is changing and my own responses to it are in constant development. I will continue to update this policy as I learn more, and I would appreciate your feedback along the way.