Student Support, Health and Wellbeing

Confidentiality and the Safe Keeping of Information in the Student Counselling Service

General principles:

The counsellors are members of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and are bound by its Ethical Framework for Good Practice. The service maintains its own, discrete, records of students who use the service. Students who attend the service for counselling are assured of confidentiality in the following ways:

• The counsellors will not normally divulge information about whether or not a student has attended a counselling session, or what was discussed within a session, to any third party. This includes fellow students, GPs, members of staff or parents.

• If a counsellor believes that it is in the interest of the client that information given in counselling be passed on to a third party (eg for a referral to the client’s GP), she/he would obtain their permission to do so, and discuss with them the nature and form of such a communication. Similarly, If a counselling client requests that information is passed on to a third party, the counsellor would discuss with them the form that that communication should take.

• In exceptional circumstances, where the counsellor has good grounds for believing that a client is at serious risk of harming him/herself or others, or in the event of certain court proceedings, the counsellors may judge that it is necessary to breach confidentiality. Normally such action would only be taken after the situation had been discussed with both the client concerned, and with a supervisor or experienced colleague.

• The counsellors attend regular counselling supervision in which aspects of the work with clients are discussed, but the identity of the client is disguised.

Record Keeping:

The records system has been reviewed to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act (1998).

All records concerning clients are kept within the service, including the counselling records database. Paper records are marked ‘confidential', and are kept in locked filing cabinets to which only the counsellors and their secretarial assistant have access.

Information concerning the identity of clients, which includes data on the counselling service database, is restricted to the student counsellors and their secretarial assistant. and is protected by a coding method. Counsellors usually also make notes after each session, and these are kept in a separate locked cabinet and carry only the clients code number. Letters from tutors, GPs and other agencies about clients are also filed separately.

Client record cards, counsellors’ case notes and letters concerning clients are shredded after six years.