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Email Counselling Guidelines

Mailing messages

Guidance on how much to write
Counselling is likely to work most effectively if you mail me every week. You can mail once a week, or more often, writing as much as you like. You can write in the email body or use an attachment.

If a week has passed since I last heard from you, I will check that you still want to continue.

If I do not hear from you within a further week, I’ll assume that you no longer want counselling at this time – however, I hope that we will make a joint decision about ending when the time is right.

When I will reply
I will read and reply to your mails on Thursdays. For me to reply, your mail should reach me by 8.30am each Thursday. I will let you know if I am unable to reply on my normal days.

Confirmation
I would be grateful if you could send a simple reply saying “received” when you get my first message, so I know it is working. Then send me a further mail when you are ready to. I will also send you a brief ‘received’ reply to let you know your email has reached me, while I will only be able to send you a proper reply on Thursdays.

Computer problems
If you have any technical difficulties with sending emails, please telephone our Reception on 02920 879572. The office staff will ensure I get your message.

An important reason for asking for your telephone number in your referral is so that I can let you know if I experience any technical failures.

What to do if you don’t hear from me

If you don’t get a response from me when I have said I will reply, the most likely problem is a technical failure.

If you haven’t got your expected response, let us know. You can try emailing me again, or you can contact Reception on 02920 879572 or staffsounselling@cardiff.ac.uk  

About you

I will find it helpful to hear about your background, so I can understand you in the context of your life and experience. For example, you can tell me about:

  • your parents and family
  • school experiences
  • current living circumstances.

Let me know of anything else you feel is relevant.

Please tell me about any medication you are taking, and about any other therapy you are currently receiving or have received in the past.

About how I work

I aim to help you move forward through reflecting on yourself and your situation, identifying your inner strengths and resources, and helping you to find more effective ways to address your difficulties. I will not routinely give advice, though I may suggest a different way of seeing something.

You are very welcome to comment on how you feel about my replies – what you found helpful, or anything you disagree with!

I hope that email counselling will be helpful for you, but it isn’t for everyone. If things are not progressing well, either of us can say so. If necessary, we can discuss if another type of help is better for you.

Confidentiality

Who I talk to
There are a few limits on confidentiality, as described below. Otherwise, everything you tell me is completely confidential. I would not discuss you with your tutors, GP, family, or friends, unless you have given me permission, and we both think it would be helpful.

I may discuss you with a supervisor. I also discuss my work with the small team of counsellors at Cardiff University. My supervisor and other counsellors keep everything confidential.

Limitations to confidentiality
In most circumstances I will not break confidentiality. The circumstances where I might consider breaking confidentiality are:

1. If you are at risk of severely hurting yourself or someone else;
2. If the law requires it (there are very few circumstances, please ask if you want to know more).

Complaints

I will be doing my best to help you. If you have difficulties with how we are working, please let me know, so that together we can determine what you need.
Should you feel that you have cause for complaint, you should write in the first instance to the Head of Counselling who will seek to deal with the matter informally.  He can be contacted through the counselling reception

If you wish to make a complaint against the Head of Counselling you should in the first instance write to the Director of REGOS who will seek to deal with the matter informally.
Should you wish to follow the University Complaints Procedure you should seek the appropriate section of the University’s Corporate Compliance website, complaints procedure

I work to the Ethical Framework of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). If you are unsatisfied with the response from the Head of Counselling, and Director of REGOS, you can contact BACP directly at BACP Complaints.  All complaints will be taken seriously.

Security

Your computer
It is always wise to have an anti-virus programme installed on your computer. You can ask INSRV if you need further advice on this.

Neither I, nor Cardiff University (Counselling Service), can be held responsible for any damage to your computer.

Keeping your messages secure 
I suggest you make sure no-one else can read your mails, even if you don’t normally stop others having access. Sometimes people say things in counselling they have rarely or never talked about before. You can keep your messages secure by using passwords. INSRV can help you with this if you are unsure how.

How I secure my records
I will keep your messages on my computer. My computer is password protected. Only limited members of the Counselling Service staff have access to your records.

How long I keep records for
I keep records for six years after counselling ends. Then I delete records from my computer and shred print-outs.

Reference: Judi Brosnan Oxford Brookes University, Counselling Service.