HELP Counselling Services Privacy Notice
The General Data Protection Regulation 2018 (GDPR) provides the legal framework that defines how personal information can be used.
HELP Counselling Services is fully committed to the compliance of GDPR and has a legal duty to protect any information we collect from you.
We collect different types of data for different reasons.
This includes your name, address, telephone numbers and email address, which we record on your client form. We use it to make contact with you to arrange or cancel appointments, or send you letters and emails. We like to have multiple details for ease of contact, especially in time limited situations. However you could, if you wished, restrict the number of ways we are able access you.
We will not, under any circumstances give your details to any third party without your explicit consent, unless required to do so by law. Additionally we will not send you any marketing material.
This includes information like your date of birth, marital status, ethnic origin, employment status and number of dependents, which is recorded on your client form. This is useful information that helps to build a picture of who you are and helps your counsellor to understand your circumstances. Whilst useful it is not essential and it is your right to refuse to give us any or all of this information.
During your initial appointment you will be sensitively and professionally asked about your life. This will include details of childhood, major events in your life, losses and traumas. This information is highly sensitive, but essential for counselling to take place. What you tell us, assists us to place you with an appropriate counsellor, with the skills to help you work through your material.
This information is documented on your client form and is the only in-depth notes that we keep. It is stored securely both electronically and physically in a hard copy. It is only shared within the service and within counsellor supervision.
You will also be asked to do a self-evaluation to measure key aspects of your life. This is done in your initial appointment and on your final session of counselling.
We do not, as a rule keep ongoing notes. However it is occasionally essential to record major occurrences. This is information such as; a bereavement, suicidal thoughts or actions, criminal and violent behaviour and other major and significant events that may change the nature of the counselling work. This is collected on a form and kept securely with the hard copy of your client form.
This is information like the dates and times of your sessions and any missed sessions. This is recorded in your client log which is kept securely with the hard copy of your client form.
As a charity, we need to raise almost all of our running costs through fundraising. It is helpful to our funders to understand the issues we work with and the effectiveness of our work. To do this we gather information like; how many people came to see us who were suffering from Depression or how many people reported improved mood after completion of counselling. We also use anonymous client feedback to make improvements to the service or to highlight the need for the work we do. All of the data is strictly anonymous and essential for us to fund the service.
The Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) guidance is that we should not keep your personal information for any longer than we need to. However legally under Contract Law we should keep your notes for 7 years. This is in the event you need your data as evidence. After 7 years your data is destroyed.
No system can be 100% secure, especially from a determined attack. However HCS will take all reasonable precautions to protect your data. This is not only from a cyber-attack, but also from flood, fire, physical theft and accidental deletion.
You can, at any point request to have a copy of any or all of the data we have about you. This can include:
You can request your data verbally, in writing or by using our ‘Disclosure of Information form’. We will document your request, using our ‘Disclosure of Information form’.
You can request to have your data received in various ways: Electronically, in person, or by recorded delivery.
You can request for your data to be sent to a third party. For example; another therapist, your G.P or your solicitor. However we may wish to contact them directly to ensure that they will handle your personal information securely.
We will not make a charge for this request and we will complete the request within 30 days.
Most of the information we collect from you is needed to provide our service to you. Because of this we are unable to offer ‘Meaningful Consent’, instead we have opted for the lawful basis below to use your personal data.
‘Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests.’
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