Online counselling service agreement

This document serves as the basis of the agreement for accessing our online counselling services. You are requested to read this document before beginning counselling. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the agreement, please bring these up with your counsellor in the first session.

  1. Balancing privacy and safety
  2. Data security
  3. Ways of working together
  4. Counsellors
  5. Sessions
    1. Cancellations
    2. Technical difficulties
  6. Email counselling
  7. Limits of counsellor responses

1. Balancing privacy and safety

While Living Well endeavours to respect your privacy at all times, as discussed in our Privacy statement there are some things that are important for you to know in engaging with any of our online services.

In providing a counselling service we are concerned to support your ongoing well being and the well being of those around you. If we identify concerns that you are at risk of harm by yourself or from others or someone else is at risk of harm, we will speak with you about this. We will typically follow the below process:

  • Your counsellor will attempt to obtain as much relevant information as necessary.
  • Your counsellor will refer you to appropriate face-to-face services.
  • Your counsellor may use the information that you provide to us to contact you directly in order to provide support and/or practical assistance.
  • We will, as required by law, send the information we have available to us to the relevant authorities in order to protect all parties involved.
    • This information will include the personal and contact information you give us when you register, as well as information that is available to us as a result of contact, such as your IP address.
  • If you have chosen to remain anonymous or do not respond, your counsellor may seek to establish your identity and notify appropriate emergency services to avert risk.

In the event that you choose not to provide us with this information, we may be unable to provide follow up in the event of an emergency. We are limited in the amount of practical help that we can offer by the information that you provide.

You may of course choose to remain anonymous but by doing so you acknowledge that we will not be able to assist you in any way. In this case we will not be held responsible for outcomes outside of our control.

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2. Data security

Living Well is committed to keeping data secure, as detailed in our Online counselling privacy statement. However it is equally as important that you take whatever measures that you are able, to ensure that your information is safe, especially if you share a computer with others.

Some steps that we recommend you take include:

  • Ensure security of your account passwords (e.g. for the chat system, your Windows account, or your Email account).
  • If you use Microsoft Outlook or Windows Mail for your counselling email, ensure it cannot be opened by other members of the household.
  • It is advised that you do not send any therapeutic or private content in an open email, but attach these responses to your emails as a password protected Word document.
  • If engaging in Live chat counselling, clear your browser history, cache/temporary internet files and cookies after each session. This will ensure no one knows you are engaging in our services.
  • If you choose to keep your chat session transcripts, store them securely, e.g. in a password protected Word document or Zip file.
  • Always keep your Virus Definitions up to date.
  • Do not engage in online counselling using a public computer, or where the content of exchanges could be viewed by others in close proximity.
  • Read more information on keeping your data private.

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3. Ways of working together

Living Well offers a variety of methods of accessing our services, each with their own benefits and limitations. Please read the relevant information for each service type and choose the one you think will work best for you.

If your counsellor thinks an alternative service type may be more effective for you, he or she will suggest this in session, however ultimately the decision is up to you.

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4. Counsellors

All counsellors at Living Well are required to adhere to the Anglicare Code of Conduct for all employees. Read more about the necessary qualifications of our counsellors.

If at any point within your counselling you feel that your counsellor is acting unethically, it is suggested that you discuss this with your counsellor in the hopes that a resolution can be found. If you are unable to do so, please contact the service manager and you will be given the opportunity to express your concerns directly to the counsellor’s supervisor.

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5. Sessions

Counselling sessions last for one hour. Live sessions will take place at the time you arrange to meet with your counsellor. The frequency of counselling sessions is something you can negotiate with your counsellor, however weekly sessions are generally recommended at the outset.

If you are late for a live session, the counsellor will wait for you there and can begin when you arrive, however the session will still end at the scheduled time. If you do not show up for your session you will need to book another one.

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5.1 Cancellations

If for some reason you will be unable to attend your session, we kindly request that you email your counsellor to arrange to reschedule at least 24 hours in advance. This gives other clients the opportunity to make use of that vacant spot.

If you do not show for your scheduled session, your counsellor will send you an email to schedule another one. If sessions are missed on a consistent basis your counsellor may open a discussion with you as to the reasons for this, and brainstorm solutions, for example we may suggest postponing counselling until you feel ready.

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5.2 Technical difficulties

When a session ends prematurely due to technical difficulty, or you are unable to connect to a session due to technical difficulty, please email or call your counsellor to let them know, and to try to work it out. However, please be aware that as our counsellors and other staff are not technical support workers, there is a limit to the assistance we can provide.

If the difficulty is unable to be resolved at the scheduled time, your counsellor will reschedule your session with you. If you are unable to connect at all, telephone or face-to-face counselling may be the only other option.

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6. Email counselling

Email counselling is also per "session," consisting of an emailed response to your query from your counsellor. A session also includes any brief clarifications that you may need made to the response. The details of this can be negotiated with your counsellor.

Email messages to your counsellor should be approximately one A4 page in length, and not exceeding two A4 pages. An exception to this is your initial contact, in which you may choose to give a detailed description of the history of your issue.

Once your counsellor receives your message you should receive a response within two business days. If, after two business days, you have still not received any communication from your counsellor, please contact us to let us know, as there may have been a technical issue.

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7. Limits of Counsellor Responses

Messages from your counsellor have been tailored to your own particular situation, thus cannot be generalised to other individuals. Further to this, any emailed messages you receive from your counsellor are protected by Copyright. Therefore as a part of your service agreement it is asked that you do not forward messages unless you receive the prior consent of Living Well.

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