In order to help clients effectively as a counsellor, I keep records of sessions attended, including content of what we talked about. This is standard practice and is in line with the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy's Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions, which states that accurate records should be kept which are adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary for the type of service being provided and comply with the applicable data protection requirements.
These records are kept locked away in a secure filing cabinet. Only I have access to these records. The records would only be released if ordered by a court of law, in which case I would take legal advice through my professional indemnity insurers before considering whether or not I needed to comply with the court's order. (I have never received such an order in many years of practising.)
The only other (extremely rare) occasions I would share certain relevant details of what a client told me would be as follows.
If I felt that anyone including the client was in danger I might be under a duty to share information relating to this to the relevant healthcare professionals and/or social and welfare services; but I would never break confidentiality without discussing this with the client first.
In the very unlikely event that a client disclosed information relating to serious illegal activities I would be required to disclose this to the appropriate authorities.
I keep no data about clients electronically other than, if I have occasion to email a client, which often occurs, email addresses in my private email account which is password protected. No one except me has access to my private email account. All my electronic devices have up to date security. No other information pertaining to clients is kept electronically. I never send out marketing information.
I am registered with the Information Commissioner's Office under registration reference: ZA353812.
If a client has a complaint, they can approach the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, BACP House, 15 St John's Business Park, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE17 4HB, tel: 01455 883300, email: [email protected], website: www.bacp.co.uk