This counselling agreement sets out the terms under which you and I, your counsellor, will work together. It explains what I can offer you and what I expect of you. If you have any queries or concerns about any aspect of this counselling agreement, please ask me when we meet.
What I offer
I aim to provide a safe place in which you can look at your issues and resolve your difficulties.
I cannot give advice, offer an opinion, or tell you what to do. Instead, I will help you to work through the things you bring, to find your own resolution.
We use Zoom for online appointments, and I will send you a meeting link just before our appointment time. Clicking the link will take you to a virtual waiting room. I will admit you at our scheduled appointment time. Using a waiting room lets you set up the meeting before we start. If technical difficulties stop us meeting in Zoom, I will offer WhatsApp, FaceTime or telephone counselling. Even if we cannot find a work-around, you would still need to pay, unless the problems were at my end, as I have committed the time to you.
When we will meet
I will see you once a week, and appointments last around 50 minutes unless we agree to something different. If you arrive early or late, I cannot see you outside the times we decided.
How long we will work together
Unless we agree otherwise, I will see you for as long as it is helpful. From time to time, we will review our work together to keep things on track. You may finish counselling at any time. Please let me know before our last meeting that you want to finish so we can plan a proper ending.
What you will pay
We will agree on a fee, which we will review annually. I can accept payments in cash, by card or bank transfer. Payment on invoice is available to established organisations. If I am holding a deposit, this would be forfeit if you missed an appointment without giving the agreed notice.
If I have to cancel or rearrange an appointment, I will let you know as soon as possible. If I cannot do so myself, a colleague might contact you on my behalf. They would only know your appointment time and contact details. They do not know about the things we discuss.
If you need to cancel or change an appointment, please let me know at least two working days in advance. Otherwise, you will have to pay for the missed/rearranged session, even though you did not attend. If you are over 15 minutes late without letting me know, I may consider your appointment cancelled. If you miss three meetings, I will assume that you no longer want to take part in therapy and will invoice you for the missed sessions.
If I see you somewhere else
We would not, usually, have contact outside sessions. If we meet by chance, I will only acknowledge or speak to you with your prior agreement and will not discuss session material. In that way, I aim to protect your confidentiality, especially if you are with other people.
We have professional social media accounts. While you are welcome to ‘follow’ them, you are not required or expected to do so. We will not engage with you through social media. Our social media policy gives more information.
Staying the course
Counselling can be demanding and, at times, challenging. Sometimes it can feel like you have said too much. If this happens, it might seem hard to come back. However, it is important to attend regularly, keeping absences to a minimum.
Is it confidential?
Confidentiality means that what you tell me is kept as private as possible. If I become concerned about your safety or the safety of others, I might need to breach confidentiality. Where possible, I would discuss with you who I need to talk to and what I will say, in a supportive and open way, before doing so. Unless it is an emergency, I will not speak to other people about you without discussing it with you first.
If someone else is paying for your counselling, I might need to let them know you took part in the sessions to invoice for the work.
In some circumstances, I might have to let someone know if you missed or cancelled an appointment. For example, if a third-party was paying or if you were generally attending as a couple and missed a related individual session. They would be told that you changed, cancelled or missed the meeting, but nothing else.
I have a clinical supervisor and might discuss the things we talk about with them. I will only use your first name, so they will not know who you are. They will keep what we discuss confidentially.
If I see you on your own and with others, anything said one-to-one remains confidential between us. However, if you told me something that would significantly affect them, you might have to tell them too. If you did not, we might not be able to continue our work together.
I keep brief, factual notes of the work we do, which you are welcome to see. I might use my records, and any recordings we agreed to make, in supervision or for my professional development. I will store all notes and recordings securely and will destroy them when they are no longer required.
If I receive a court order or a coroner’s request to release your notes, I have to comply.
Except as above, I will disclose nothing we speak about without your explicit consent.
CCTV protects our premises. We keep the recordings for a few weeks, after which we overwrite them. There is no CCTV in the counselling room and, unless we explicitly agree otherwise, we do not record sessions.
If something happened in my life, which meant I could not work, I would try to let you know. We could then discuss the best way forwards for both of us. Where possible, a colleague would contact you in the event of my sudden death.
Counselling Matters has conducted a COVID-19 risk assessment and would request that all clients attending face-to-face sessions use hand sanitiser on arrival and before departure, and follow government guidelines regarding the wearing of face masks. While we have tissues available, it would be preferable for you to bring your own. In either instance, you would be required to take any used tissues away with you.
If either of us develops symptoms of COVID-19, or tests positive for the disease, any scheduled face-to-face sessions must be cancelled immediately. If you test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of a face-to-face counselling session, please notify me straight away and do not attend any further sessions until 14 days after your symptoms have ceased. If I have a positive test result, I will notify you, too.
Track and Trace
If I test positive for COVID-19 I might need to give your details as someone I have been in contact with. If this happens, I will pass on your name and necessary contact details but will not identify you as a client. I will say I have had contact with you without stating the nature of the contact.
I am a registered member of a professional body and work to their ethical framework. If you are unhappy with any aspect of my service, please discuss it with me as soon as possible. I will do all I can to resolve any difficulties to your satisfaction. If we cannot resolve any issue, I will offer the services of an experienced mediator, independent of this practice. If you are still not satisfied, you may raise a complaint with my professional body.
If you are happy to proceed with counselling based on this counselling agreement, please enter your name, email address, and the fee we agreed below. Then select the name of the counsellor you are seeing and click the button to confirm you agree to these terms.
Image courtesy of Alpha Stock Images – http://alphastockimages.com/