This document acknowledges the complex world of digital media and tries its best to address issues that may impact the therapeutic relationship. It aims to address and contain the most likely eventualities that may arise by way of digital exposure, also with reference to maintaining privacy and data protection.
The nature of an online presence can blur interpersonal boundaries, so it is important to be as clear as possible about how boundaries may be compromised. As a general rule, I like to keep clinical work in the consultation room as much as possible. However, the nature of the digital world can sometimes stretch these boundaries, so I offer the best clarity I can as below.
I am not currently using an email encryption programme, so any emails we send to each other may be vulnerable to viruses or human error. For this reason, it is best to be thoughtful about what you include in emails to me, and which email address you choose to use with me. Often, it is best to rely on email for non-confidential communications like setting up appointment times and things like that. In an effort to keep confidential and psychological material “in the room” it is best avoided in emails unless we discuss it beforehand. I will always request your preferred email address from our first session.
If you choose to communicate with me by email, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of Internet Service Providers. Furthermore, they can be vulnerable to viruses and unintended forwarding or replication. If you are concerned about the confidentiality of your emails, you may wish to contact me by telephone instead.
I check emails only at fixed times during office hours – I avoid checking them on weekends and holidays. I endeavour to respond to all emails within 24 hours upon opening them. Emails should never be used in the event of an emergency, in which case you should contact emergency services.
I normally prepare invoices manually in hardcopy and will give them to you in the last session of each month. If you prefer to receive your invoice by email, please let me know by sending me a request from your chosen e-mail address.
You may feel free to contact me by text message to alert me if you are running late for a session or for similar reasons. However, because of the lack of context of text messages, it is generally not the best method for communicating with me about more important matters, so please do phone and leave me a message.
As a private practitioner I am unable to offer an emergency service. Should you experience an emergency please contact the emergency services. If you feel that this may be an issue, please discuss it with me.
Telephone and Skype:
While I do not generally run my practice remotely, there may be times when we have a session by telephone or video conferencing, for example, if either one of us is abroad. Any such sessions will be discussed in advance. When engaging via video conferencing, we both agree not to record sessions. It is also crucial that you’re sure the environment from which you are conferencing with me is safe, secure, and private.
I have found it is best to avoid encountering information about you that does not come directly from you, so in general practice I do not Google my patients. However, people will often Google prospective therapists as part of their process in choosing one. If you did so with me, and this produced any questions, I would be happy to address them with you. It is best to find out from each other what we need to know face-to-face.
General Data Protection Regulation
You have a right to know what information I keep about you. In addition to the information collected on this form I may also keep notes about our sessions together. These notes are kept manually on pad and paper and are not kept alongside information that identifies you. They are not shared with anyone other than anonymously within supervision or other professional confidential contexts. Under rare circumstances, notes may be subpoenaed in a court of law. Because of this, I try to keep my notes to a minimum. I will keep your notes for the period to which I am obliged which can be anywhere from 3 to 7 years, after which they will be destroyed.
I also keep your contact information, email, phone number, address, and GP details in my digital contacts so I can contact you if necessary. These contacts may be vulnerable to hacking. Therefore, if you prefer, I can refrain from keeping them digitally and instead keep them in a locked file. Please let me know if this is the case.
Emails may also be vulnerable to hacking or mis-sending by human error. If you would prefer not to communicate by email, please let me know. Otherwise, it is best to use email only for logistical purposes (changing session times, etc.).
You have the right to have the information I hold about you erased. If you would like me to delete your information, let me know. However, as above, I may need to retain your notes for a required period of time, after which they will be deleted. In general, I will only hold the minimum of information I need about you to carry out my professional duties and will regularly audit and clear such data.