Confidentiality is an essential part of our work together. I will not disclose anything you share with me to a third party (e.g. your GP), unless there is a very good reason for doing so; and if so, I will always include you in the disclosure or encourage you to make the disclosure yourself. This may include danger of serious harm to yourself or another person e.g. domestic abuse or risk of suicide. Although decisions to break confidentiality will normally be discussed with you first, disclosures may still occur without your consent if there are legal implications e.g. you share information with me which suggests a child or vulnerable adult is being abused or at risk, or if I would be liable to civil or criminal court procedure if the information were not disclosed.
I also share aspects of my counselling work with my supervisor, with a view to giving clients the best service and care possible. My supervisor is bound by similar codes of confidentiality. In addition to aspects of counselling work I share clients’ first names with my supervisor. Please let me know if you have concerns about this and wish me to further disguise your identity
Time, Cost and Cancellations
Counselling with me is client-centred and open-ended, ranging between just one session and many years, with most clients somewhere in between. I see clients either weekly or fortnightly, usually at the same time, and can alternate between these options if my schedule allows. I can also usually see clients monthly towards the end of their therapy if needed.
Each session lasts one hour and costs £50 (couples therapy £55), payable by cash, Paypal (paypal.me/elissamood) or BACS transfer (Elissa Mood, account number 71789560, sort code 09-01-26). Further charges will also be applied for writing professional reports or providing extensive notes (typically around half the price of a session). I have a few spaces for clients on a low income, and operate a sliding scale starting at £35 per hour (couples therapy £45). This sliding scale can be applied through negotiation if you are experiencing financial difficulties during our work together; and in keeping with this flexible approach, I ask that you increase the amount if your situation improves.
I ask that you give as much notice as possible if you need to cancel a session, and request that you pay half the cost of the missed session if you cancel on the day of the appointment and an alternative time is not available. Sessions cancelled with less than two hours notice will be charged at the full rate. As your counsellor I will give as much notice as possible when I know I am unable to attend a session, and will only cancel on the same day in exceptional circumstances. I ask that clients aim to not cancel more than six sessions per year in order to maintain consistency of the therapeutic work. If cancellations become commonplace I may ask you to pay for missed sessions, even when advance notice is given.
Unfortunately, if I have another client booked in after you, I won’t be able to extend the length of the session if you arrive late. In these circumstances, your session will need to end at the scheduled time, but will be charged at the full rate. However, I always try to be flexible where possible, and may be able to offer you an alternative time slot if my schedule allows. I can also offer online (Zoom, FaceTime, WhatsApp) counselling if you are unable to attend a session in person.
I take around 6-8 weeks holiday per year. I will give as much advance notice of these breaks as possible. I will often offer one or two days during these breaks for clients who struggle with time away from therapy, but this is not guaranteed. Please note that for fortnightly clients there can sometimes be a gap of a month between therapy sessions around these breaks. I occasionally work on Bank Holidays if there is a need.
Emotional and Physical Health and Safety
Many problems in life do not have easy answers or quick fixes, and counselling can at times feel long and complex without obvious results. Although over time clients generally feel better in counselling, there may be times during which you feel lost, confused or unhappy. This may happen for a number of reasons e.g. grief, anger, guilt, sadness or trauma which has been buried and is now resurfacing. This is a normal part of counselling and usually eases over time. I will endeavour to be particularly sensitive during these times and help you ‘hold’ these feelings.
In addition, counselling is not an exact science and counsellors are human and fallible. It is possible that, even with the best of intentions, I may say or do something at some point which upsets you in some way. When issues are addressed directly with a counsellor, they can often be transformed with powerful therapeutic consequences. I therefore ask, if you feel able, that you bring any problems you have with me to a counselling session in the first instance. However, if you feel at all concerned about our work together, please contact BACP’s ‘Get Help with Counselling Service’ (details below under ‘Ending Therapy / Complaints’) for impartial and confidential advice.
I am a registered member of the BACP and work according to their Ethical Framework for Good Practice in the Counselling Professions (available to view at http://www.bacp.co.uk/ethical_framework/). I hold full professional liability and public indemnity insurance. All smoke and CO2 alarms in the house are tested regularly. In the event of a fire, please accompany me to the safest exit and wait for the emergency services.
The room I use for counselling is on the ground floor of my house. I have awareness of hearing and visual impairments and hold a BSL level 2 certificate. I also have awareness of neurodiversity and aim to work sensitively with neurodiverse clients, making adjustments where necessary.
Boundaries of Contact (including social media)
I am contactable outside sessions by mobile or email for practical communications (e.g. cancellations or to let me know you’re running late). Because boundaries are important in counselling for both clients and counsellors, I ask that clients do not contact me excessively for therapeutic reasons outside sessions. You are however welcome to email me your feelings, thoughts and experiences between sessions. Please note that although I am usually able to read emails, I am unlikely to be able to reply; and ask you to wait until the next session before discussing any such correspondence. If you find yourself struggling between sessions and feel you are at risk of harm, please contact the Samaritans on 116 123 (see https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help/contact-samaritan/).
I do not accept friend requests from current or former clients on social networking sites, as this may blur boundaries and compromise clients’ confidentiality and privacy. For the same reason, I request that clients do not communicate with me via any interactive or social networking websites. I do not conduct web searches on clients, as I believe this is a breach of privacy. You are of course entitled to conduct a web search on me. If there is anything you read about me online which changes the nature of our relationship, however, I ask that you bring this ‘into the room’ so we can discuss it together.
I am registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office, registration reference: ZA282563, and keep any data I hold on you in secure online storage, in accordance with the Data Protection Act (1998) and the 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This data includes your contact details, such as name, address, phone and email, your GP’s name and address and details of any medication you are taking. Please let me know if any of these details change, so I can update my records. I also take brief notes after each counselling session, which serve to remind me of the content of our work, and which provide a factual account of our work in rare cases of court subpoena or if requested by clients’ solicitors. These notes do not contain my personal thoughts or opinions. I use a number and your initial rather than your name in these notes, and store them separately from your contact information, so your identity cannot be linked to the content of the counselling sessions.
You have the right to see any information held on you at any time. Please ask me if you wish to see this information and I will provide this within one month. You may request correction or erasure of data held on you; or for data processing to be limited or ceased where applicable. For legal and insurance purposes, all contact details and notes will be stored securely for 7 years after our work together has finished, at which point they will be securely deleted.
Working with addiction
I adhere primarily to the view that addiction is a coping mechanism for dealing with unresolved emotional trauma. Therapy can help to process these root causes of addiction; however, it is not possible to do this work when a client attends a session under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Therefore I ask that, if you do have a substance addiction, you do not attend counselling sessions whilst under their influence. If therapy becomes impossible due to an ongoing addiction, I will discuss with you ways to help you deal with this (e.g. with the help of other services), with an invitation to return to counselling with me alongside this support, or at a later date.
Ending Therapy / Complaints
The decision to end therapy is ideally made together in the counselling relationship, and an ‘end session’ booked in which the work can be reviewed, and concerns about the future discussed. You do however have the right to terminate the therapy at any time by email, phone, text or during a session. In the case of unforeseen endings by myself, I have appointed a ‘professional executor’ who will ensure you are informed; are given the names of alternative therapists if required; and who will ensure data held on you is dealt with in accordance with legal guidelines.
If you are unhappy with me or my work for any reason but feel unable to talk to me about your concerns, or do not feel I have satisfactorily dealt with them, you can use the confidential ‘Get Help with Counselling Service’ provided by BACP at https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-therapy/get-help-with-counselling-concerns-service/). This service exists for clients who are seeing BACP registered therapists and are concerned about their therapist or the way the therapy is going; wondering whether what they are experiencing is usual; worried that something about the therapy doesn’t feel right; or not sure what to do or who to talk to. This service is available from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday. You can contact the service by telephone on 01455 883300 (select option 2), 07811 762114 or 07811 762256; or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on how to make a formal complaint can be found at https://www.bacp.co.uk/about-us/protecting-the-public/professional-conduct/how-to-complain-about-a-bacp-member/.
Updated August 2022