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Counselling Service Policy and Confidentiality Statement

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Counselling Service Policy and Confidentiality Statement


January 2012

1. Introduction
1.1 The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) ethical framework requires that counsellors offer the highest possible levels of confidentiality in order to respect client privacy and create the trust necessary for the counselling relationship.
1.2 The Arts University College at Bournemouth Counselling Service complies with the principals set out in the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) ethical framework, the Association for University and College Counselling (AUCC) guidelines, and with AUCB’s policies relating to equality and inclusivity.
2. Aims

2.1 The Counselling Service aims to provide a confidential service which is accessible to all current students of the Arts University College at Bournemouth.

2.2 Through the provision of impartial, confidential and informed support the Counselling Service aims to help students to manage their emotional and developmental issues during their time at the University College.
3. Objectives
3.1 To provide one-to-one counselling sessions with fully qualified male or female counsellors who will listen without prejudice in a confidential and private setting.
3.2 To provide one-to-one counselling sessions with trainee male or female counsellors, ensuring that students are informed and accepting of the counsellor’s trainee status.
3.3 To support students to explore and work with their difficult issues and emotions effectively.
3.4 To support students’ personal development and encourage students to utilize their own resources to help them resolve their issues.
3.5 To refer to other AUCB services or outside agencies where appropriate.
4. Student Entitlement
Any student of the University College is able to make use of the Counselling Service and in doing so may expect the following:
4.1 To be offered an initial consultation appointment with a qualified counsellor. This is not a counselling session but a meeting to ensure that the nature of the support provided, and associated confidentiality, is clearly explained, and for the student and counsellor to agree any ongoing counselling support.
4.2 To receive up to 6 hours of one-to-one counselling, or occasional support sessions if appropriate, with a fully qualified or trainee counsellor.
4.3 Counselling for AUCB staff is provided by an external agency and staff are informed of this during their induction. To avoid ethical issues, any person employed by the University College for 18.5 hours or more per week, who is also a student of the University College, will not be able to access support through the Student Counselling Service but will be referred to the staff service.
5. Student Responsibilities
In accessing the Counselling Service students are entering into a therapeutic relationship and have the following responsibilities:
5.1 To book appointments for themselves by email, telephone, text or by dropping in to Student Services (Counselling and Careers Office)
5.2 To arrive promptly for any counselling sessions booked.
5.3 To give a minimum of 24 hours’ cancellation notice. (No notice and no show counts as a missed session). After two missed sessions with no contact the counselling agreement will be terminated. Future access to the Counselling Service will be at the discretion of the Senior Counselling Officer.
5.4 To engage with the counselling relationship and to accept that it is not the aim of counselling to provide direct advice, but to enable students to find their own solutions from their own resources and strengths. This is achieved through support and guidance in a confidential, non judgmental and relaxed environment.
6.1 Counselling sessions held at within Student Services or any other settings within the University College are confidential to both the student and counsellor.
6.2 Unless they have the prior consent of the student, the counsellor will not pass on to a third party any information regarding the student’s attendance, presenting issues or anything discussed within the counselling session.
6.3 Only in exceptional circumstances, the counsellor may take direct action to break confidentiality with or without the student’s consent if necessary where, in the counsellor’s professional judgement:

  • There is a risk of serious harm to the student and/or others.

  • The student is 16-17 years of age and is being harmed or abused as defined by the Children’s’ Act 1989.

  • The student is believed to represent a threat under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2000.

6.4 Direct Action applies when, in exceptional circumstances, the information shared by students has to be passed to another agency (e.g. Social Services, Police or Health Authorities). However, this will be fully discussed with the student first and he / she will be involved in the process, so that any resulting action is taken with his / her full knowledge.

    1. A Counsellor can be required by a court of law to provide information, although this situation is very rare and the student’s permission will be sought where possible.

7. Record Keeping
7.1 The Counselling Service keeps both written and computerised records. These are kept to assist the counsellors in their work with the student. In addition they help to ensure the service is accountable, monitored regularly and evaluated.
7.2 Security and confidentiality are vital and hand written records are stored safely by the counsellor in a locked cabinet within the counselling room.
7.3 Names and contact details are kept separately from other records and hand written notes are coded to avoid any identification of each client.
7.4 Computerised records are password protected and only the Senior Counselling Officer, Student Counsellor and Head of Student Services have access. The Student Services Administrator has limited access to records for the purpose of providing administrative support. Counselling records are held separately from all other student records held by the Arts University College at Bournemouth.
7.5 The policy on confidentiality and the purpose of record keeping will be explained to all students using the Counselling Service. The students’ consent to collect and record all information will be obtained at the first initial assessment in accordance with Data Protection Act 1998.
7.6 Data is also provided through Student Perception Surveys, and students undergoing a period of counselling are asked to complete an evaluation questionnaire when they have concluded their sessions. This data is anonymous and individual students are not identified in the collection or monitoring of such information.
8. Data Protection Act
8.1 The Arts University College at Bournemouth’s Counselling Service operates under the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. Under this Act students have the right to see the records that are kept about them at any time.
8.2 Individual student records of attendance are retained for a period of 3 years after the student has received counselling. Counselling case notes are destroyed 18 months after the student has left AUCB. The destruction of student data complies with accepted protocols governing the destruction of sensitive information (i.e. records are shredded and are never placed in general waste).
9. Monitoring and evaluation
9.1 The Counselling Service monitors and reports on service usage at termly intervals, and prepares an annual summary which contributes to the Student Services Annual Service Review. No student records are shared and no individual student is identified in any reporting method.
10. Supervision
10.1 All the counsellors within the service receive supervision in accordance with BACP guidelines.
10.2 Supervisors adhere to the confidentiality policy and counsellors discuss their caseloads using code names to preserve anonymity of the students.
10.3 For the purpose of quality assurance, supervisors provide termly reports, confirming that counsellors are practicing in accordance with the BACP guidelines.

The Arts University College at Bournemouth is committed to the provision of a working and learning environment founded on dignity, respect and equity where unfair discrimination of any kind is treated with the utmost seriousness.  It has developed and implemented a Single Equalities Scheme (SES) to guide its work in this area.  All the University College’s policies and practices are designed to meet the principles of dignity, respect and fairness, and take account of the commitments set out in the SES.

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