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Confidentiality, Data Protection & Complaints

Code of Ethics & Policy on Confidentiality

The University Counselling Staff Service is accredited by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and thereby adheres to its ethical framework 'Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions: 2016'. Everything you have included in your Pre-counselling Form and the content of all counselling sessions is treated as confidential. Under normal circumstances, no information will be disclosed to anyone outside the service without your permission.

There are rare circumstances where we reserve the right to break confidentiality. These are where there appears to be a serious and imminent risk to your own or to others’ safety, or if we are made aware of serious illegal activities. Even in these circumstances we would usually seek to speak to you first, where appropriate, to gain your consent before disclosing information to anyone outside the Service. Please ask if you have any questions on this policy.

How we process your Personal Data

The Service handles your personal data carefully under the terms of the General Data Protection Regulation. This means that:

    • We ask your consent to process your personal data when you complete a pre-counselling form
    • You can withdraw your consent to process your personal data by contacting . However, as maintaining accurate records is essential to the ethical practice of the Staff Counselling Service, withdrawing your consent would leave us unable to offer you counselling
    • We use your personal information to ensure you are eligible to use the Service, to identify the most appropriate support for you, to organise your appointments and to contact you
    • On your first contact with the Service, we create a confidential secure electronic file that will contain: a copy of the pre-counselling form, the confidentiality agreement (Information For Clients), a record of your attendance (including missed or cancelled appointments), notes of sessions, any other contact or correspondence you have with the Service, or contact with others on your behalf or about your care. Having a complete account of your involvement with us helps us to provide you with the best possible service
    • The information is held on a computer database and is held securely on a university server. All access to the database is password protected
    • We do not share your data outside the Service unless (i) you ask or authorise us to do so or (ii) there is a serious and imminent risk to your own or to others’ safety, or when we are legally obliged to do so, or (iii) with your separate and clear consent
    • We retain this information for five academic years beyond the end of the academic year of your last involvement with the Service. After this time, the data will be securely destroyed
    • Any incomplete forms we receive will be retained and deleted at the end of that administrative academic year (if no further application has been made in that time), or if you have decided not to use the Service you can request that this information be deleted
    • We use data to compile anonymous statistics about the use of the Service and for research purposes

You will be reminded of our confidentiality and record keeping policy when you have an appointment with us and you are welcome to ask any questions about it.

For more general information about the University's use of your personal information while you are a member of staff, please see: https://www.hr.admin.cam.ac.uk/hr-staff/hr-data/how-we-handle-your-personal-data

Complaints

The Service has its own Complaints Policy, complementing the University's procedures and those of professional bodies to which counsellors belong.  Please speak to your counsellor if you want details.