New Life Counselling believes clients have a right to protection of personal information concerning their relationship with the organisation during and following the counselling process, although in exceptional circumstances this right may be superseded. Therefore:
- Absolute confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. The welfare of all clients and specifically of children and young people will always take precedence over confidentiality in accordance with the principles of the Children’s Order (NI) 1991.
- The New Life Counselling policies on confidentiality and data protection will be shared and discussed with the client at the outset of any counselling.
- Counsellors will only discuss case material with their Line Manager and anonymously with their Clinical Supervisor, or where there is a risk issue or child protection concern the Head of Clinical Services, or designated child protection officer. In the case of service delivery within schools and other statutory bodies, relevant case material can be shared with individuals designated as child protection officers under legal safeguarding requirements (e.g. key contacts in schools).
- Every effort will be made to ensure that information is shared only after the signed consent of the client has been secured.
The exceptional circumstances which may result in a decision to share information are:
- Where the client requests, and feels that it is within their best interest, that certain information be passed on.
- Where the counsellor has sufficient grounds to believe that the client is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm.
- If the client discloses that they are aware of significant harm to another person.
- In the event that a young person is under a care order, or when child protection issues arise, the counsellor, with the permission of the young person, may attend case conferences and continue to honour the confidentiality contract.
New Life Counselling receives many requests regarding the release of client notes from solicitors in connection with legal action, or requests from third parties for a report on the client’s progress in therapy. In the interests of maintaining client confidentiality, the New Life Counselling policy is not to release any client notes without a direct court subpoena. In exceptional cases, New Life Counselling may release notes at the request of an adult client and with the receipt of a signed consent to release form.
Any requests regarding client notes and/or requests for information concerning attendance at counselling are handled with caution and sensitivity.