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Cactus Counselling

Terms of Service

Confidentiality Statement

There are a few limits to the confidentiality I offer to people using my services. I am legally required to report acts of terrorism. It is also possible for a judge to demand access to the confidential information I hold.

If you disclose that there is a serious risk to your own or someone else’s life, I have a procedure to evaluate the risk with the support of other professionals and would wish to support you in acting to remove that risk. In any case, I will inform the authorities if the risk is evaluated as serious, but will discuss this with you first.

If you disclose that a child is currently experiencing or is in danger of experiencing abuse, as defined by the Child Protection Act, I would wish to support you in acting to protect that child. If the abuse is serious I have procedures to act for the benefit and protection of the child that do not necessarily require the source of the information to be revealed.

Whenever possible, if I feel that we need to suspend confidentiality for one of these reasons, I would discuss the matter with you and arrange appropriate support before any action was taken.

My discussions with my supervisor will remain confidential within the supervision structure, and will be used to support my provision of therapy to you.


Supervision

A therapist does not work in isolation. Each therapist works with the guidance and support of another, usually more experienced therapist. This method of working is called supervision, and has been found to benefit both the client and the therapist and is required by the professional associations.


Records

It is normal practice for a therapist to write notes on each session. These constitute factual details, reflection on the counselling process, the making of therapeutic contracts and progress towards goals. With some notice you may view the records of your sessions.

I keep hand-written and spreadsheet records of sessions. My hand-written notes are kept in a locked safe, and my spreadsheet records are password protected.

I reserve the right to use any recorded or written material to defend myself in case of allegations or complaint being made by a client or their legal carer/guardian. For these reasons I do not have a specific retention time for data, other than contact details, which I delete as soon as counselling ends.


Data Protection

All information that you provide to me is kept securely. Under exceptional circumstances, certain authorities can request legal access to records. I will refuse access unless ordered by a judge.

Any paperwork no longer required is shredded after we have terminated our working relationship.


Minors

I work with minors aged 14 and over on the understanding that it is understood that I will not reveal specific details of conversations with my clients to third parties, including guardians. I insist on the protection of my client's privacy as a therapeutic necessity, regardless of age.

The emotional and physical environment that the young person experiences is highly dependent on the caregivers and I will on occasion make general suggestions to the caregiver that are intended to facilitate the desired outcome. Such conversations will usually occur in the presence of the client.

The client should make payment of fees, even if parents, guardians or carers are providing the money. This recognises the client’s control over the working contract.


Ethics

I subscribe to and follow the Ethical and Professional codes of the UK Association for Transactional Analysis and the National Counselling Society.


Complaints

If a client has a complaint with me then I ask for you to raise the complaint with me. If you feel this is unsuccessful then you should direct your complaint to the United Kingdom Association for Transactional Analysis (UKATA) and/or the National Counselling Society (NCS).

According to the Psychologists Protection Society (PPS) one of the most common reasons for complaints is a rupture in the therapeutic relationship. Ruptures are a natural part of the therapeutic process so I recommend you read my blog post about this before progressing to a complaint.


Contract for Sessions

Your initial session will be a consultation during which you and I decide whether we can work together. At the end of this session a mutual agreement for further counselling/therapy may be made. This is usually for weekly sessions at the same time each week.

The normal duration of a one-to-one session is fifty (50) minutes.

If you are under 18 you may come on your own or with a second person if you wish. Please advise me beforehand whether you wish to be accompanied by a parent, carer, teacher, other trusted adult, or a friend.


Fees

Please see my fees page for current information. I accept payment either in cash or via a bank account specified at the beginning of the therapeutic relationship. I require payment prior to our session, 24 hours before the session at the latest. For in-person sessions I can accept payment at the end of the session.

I take payment for the initial session at the same hourly rate as all subsequent sessions.


Bookings

I accept bookings via the email address given in the footer of this web site, via telephone (number also given in the footer) by call or text, or by using the form linked to in the menu. I am unable to accept bookings with less than 24 hours’ notice, and prefer at least three days’ notice.


Video or Telephone Sessions

I usually provide counselling in person at any one of a variety of locations throughout Bristol, an updated list of which can be found on my Where to find me page. However, I can offer video-call or telephone sessions via Zoom or WhatsApp if required.

If we are on a video call and our connection drops, I will attempt to call again three times to continue the session. If we are on a telephone call and it drops, I will wait for you to call again to continue the session. If the call does not reconnect or the connection is weak enough to disrupt our communication then I will email or text you to advise that this is the case, and arrange our next session with you.

Please note that I will use a room to conduct a telephone or video session such that your confidentiality on my end of the line is assured. I ask that you do the same at your end.


Cancellations

Please try and give me as much advance notice as possible if you are not going to come to a session. If you do not, I will apply the following fees:

  • Cancelled sessions with more than 24 hours notice are charged at half my hourly fee.
  • If insufficient notice is given, that is, you simply don’t appear, the full fee will be charged as I will have made myself available for that session, though I take illness and commitments to dependents into account.
  • Four sessions a year, for summer holidays and winter holidays, may be cancelled without charge. Any more than this will require the full hourly fee.
  • If the session has begun but I have not heard from you, I will send you an email or text 5 minutes into the session time. If I do not hear back by 15 minutes into the session I will conclude the session.

If you fail to attend two consecutive sessions without contacting me I will consider that you have terminated this contract. A high rate of non-attendance will warrant a review of the relevancy of the work at this time in your life and your commitment to it.

As the therapist to client relationship is exclusive, there is usually no cover if I am on vacation, ill or otherwise absent. However, if I experience serious long-term illness or injury that prevents me from being able to continue as your counsellor I will endeavour to arrange for a replacement therapist to contact you and provide you with support until you make further arrangements.


Ground Rules

I work with the expectation of mutual respect and valuing. I will end a session if:

  • The client or anyone with them is abusive.
  • The client or anyone with them threatens or acts to injure himself or herself, to hurt me or other staff, or to damage property.
  • The client or anyone with them is under the influence of, or in possession of, alcohol or illegal drugs.

You may at some time want someone to join you in a session. Please plan this with me.

The premises on which I work are no smoking spaces. This includes vaping.