Counselling Contracts and Policies
Before we start counselling together, I like to provide you with a copy of my counselling contract. I like my clients to have a copy of this contract before we commence counselling to ensure client’s autonomy is maintained and my clients are clear about the counselling they are to undertake.
I find if you, the client, has this information beforehand that it allows our first session to be focused on us building upon a trusting counselling relationship. After our first session if you decide you would like to continue counselling then I will ask you to sign the contract.
What is in the counselling contract?
I have two different contracts for my Sheffield Counselling Service and my Online Counselling Service.
In both contracts you will find that my work is informed by the BACP Ethical Framework so my contract emphasises the use of the Ethical Framework so that you will know that you can trust me to honour our agreement and keep confidentiality. The contract explains about me, my background and I clarify how I envisage we will work together. It reminds you that I am an Accredited BACP Counsellor who is also a member of their Accredited Register.
All my counselling work is confidential. Counsellors are ethically required to have supervision and I may discuss your case but your identity will never be revealed. The only time that I may break confidentiality is if you are at serious risk of causing harm to yourself or others or when I am compelled to do so by law. If at any point during our counselling arrangement I felt that you were in need of emergency support, I may ask for your consent to contact your GP.
Time, location and payment
I will explain how I envisage the time, length of our sessions and explain where the location is (if you are using my Sheffield Counselling Services). I also am clear how much I charge and when and how you can make your payments.
I keep brief written notes and you are welcome to see these at any time. These notes are kept confidentially in a locked filing cabinet. Any electronic work will be stored on an external drive (password protected). At the end of our work together my notes will be stored securely for a period of 5 years. After that time they will be destroyed by secure shredding or expunged.
I explain my cancellation policy. You do have a right to cancel our session but signing my contract you agree to my cancellation policy.
As a professional, I will not have any contact with you outside of our session. I will only accept contact outside of the session for practical reasons. I will not enter into email or telephone counselling without prior agreement. I do use social media but will not accept social networking requests or chat with you through this medium as I believe it will comprise our counselling relationship. Please look at my social media policy below for future information.
Ending of Counselling
The ending of our contract will be agreed mutually between us. However, you are entitled to end the contract at any time. If you decide not to continue with our sessions, I would appreciate if you give me 48 hours’ notice prior to any appointment. You will be invoiced for any unpaid fees.
In addition to above my online counselling contract discusses security, technology breakdown.
Please ensure that you secure your computer and emails against unauthorised viewing by third parties. It is recommended that you only use a private computer and not a work or public computer. Please ensure you keep your anti-viral protection up-to-date and I will undertake to do the same.
If you are using email counselling then for your safety I recommend that we use encrypted email software, such as www.safemail.net or www.hushmail.com. These are free encrypted email provider. If you need help setting up an email address then I can help you with this once the agreement has been signed. My confidential email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. All our emails will be stored on an external drive (password protected), which will be kept in a locked filing cabinet for a period of 5 years. After this time they will be expunged.
Technology breakdown arrangements
Should you experience a technical breakdown which prevents you from emailing or skyping as agreed, please contact me by mobile (the number will be given to you before commencement of counselling) so that we can discuss how to re-arrange our email exchange. I also undertake to contact you by telephone should I experience a technical breakdown.
To find out my terms and conditions for face to face counselling work and my online counselling please contact me.
Please note if you are a counsellor you are welcome to use my contracts as a template only if you mention that taken from Hazel Hill’s (Counselling in your Community) contracts.