When we meet whether in person or online, I will give you a working agreement document for us to look at together. There are some further considerations particular to digital communication which it may be helpful to look at in terms of how they may impact the therapeutic relationship:
When we meet I will give you a Privacy Statement that outlines my compliance with GDPR
Whilst general use of email for arranging/re-arranging appointments is useful, be aware that all emails are retained in the logs of Internet Service Providers. I am not currently using an email encryption service and any emails between us can also be vulnerable to viruses or simple human error. With that in mind I urge clients not to include sensitive or confidential information in emails. Confidentiality and the therapeutic process is better maintained if we wait until we meet, whether in person or online. I will ask for your preferred email address and should that change please keep me updated.
I check emails regularly and endeavour to respond by the next working day. Please note that I do not work at weekends and bank holidays so messages received during those times, or when I am on holiday will not be responded to until I return to work.
As with emails, texting is useful for practical, non-confidential exchanges but otherwise it is preferable to wait until we meet for more important exchanges.
My preferred and widely used platform is Zoom or, where available, FaceTime but we can also use VSee as these platforms are all well encrypted; we can discuss which will work best for you and the practicalities before we begin working in this way. For maintaining confidentiality we undertake not to make recordings of these meetings.
Sometimes webcam may not be available or appropriate for you and phone may be preferable. You may want to consider whether you will be comfortable speaking for 50 minutes, or whether earphones/headset would be better. In order that you are in management of when you ‘arrive’ I would ask that you phone in, or if you prefer you can text me to say you are ready and I will call you straightaway.
For working both online and phone it is essential that you have an environment that is private, free from interruption or distraction and feels safe.
I undertake to make sure that my devices are protected with regular virus checks and updates. You are responsible for the security of your own devices in the same way.
As I am unable to offer an emergency service, please contact your local emergency service or GP if you are feeling particularly distressed or overwhelmed and unsafe, alternatively you may prefer to contact The Samaritans from any phone, for free on 116 123.
It is not my general practice to Google clients. However, you may have Googled me in selecting a therapist. My online presence is not extensive but should you become aware of something about me that is ‘outside’ the therapeutic relationship, I would encourage you to bring it to sessions so we have a chance to explore together the impact on you, in the same way we would if something I said or did impacted you during our session. In the main, I find it best to find out from each other what we may need to know.
As this is a professional relationship I do not enter into relationship with existing or former clients on social and professional networking sites and am unable to accept friend requests.
With thanks to Dr Aaron Balick for his generosity in sharing advice and assistance connected to this policy