Counselling data protection and confidentiality statement

Goldsmiths Counselling Service is committed to collecting and using personal information that you provide in accordance with applicable data protection and privacy laws, including the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation.

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This statement outlines the reasons we collect certain personal data; how this is used and who has access to it; and for how long we retain confidential information.

We also outline confidentiality and any limits to this.

What personal data we collect and why

We collect the following information:

  • Information you provide on the pre-assessment form when you apply for counselling, which includes your personal data such as name, address, course details, GP practice, etc.
  • We also ask for a brief summary of why you are accessing counselling, as well as some questions around current and historic risk, medical and mental health details, and current drug/alcohol use.

This will help to inform the intervention we offer and with whom.

Some sections of the form are optional, others are mandatory for reasons discussed above.

We also collect some information which is classed as Sensitive Personal Data or Special Category Data, which includes six of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010, these include Age (from your date of birth), Disability, Ethnicity, Religion and Belief, Sex, and Sexual Orientation. These categories are optional - any data provided helps us to monitor our equality of opportunity commitment to users of the service.

The counsellor/practitioner you meet for assessment will have access to all of the details you have provided in your pre-assessment form. Once you have met with a member of the team, assessment and session notes will be made and kept on our secure database.

Storing and retaining your records within Goldsmiths Counselling Service

All information you provide, as well as brief records of interactions with the service, will be stored on our secure database (which is password protected with two-factor authentication).

Your information will be retained for seven years. Following this period, your information will be securely destroyed.

Disclosure of your information

Goldsmiths Counselling Service takes confidentiality very seriously.

We would never disclose or discuss any notes or information you have provided us with, nor would we confirm that you are attending counselling to staff outside the counselling and wellbeing service, unless we have your explicit consent.

The exception to this is where there is significant welfare or safeguarding concerns. In such situations, we would ideally do this with your consent, but in situations where immediate action is required (to save a life for example), we may notify emergency services such as the Police or Paramedics.

Other examples of when we may need to disclose information under the following legal requirements and duties relating to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006; Prevention of Terrorism Act 1971; for the prevention, detection or prosecution of a serious crime (e.g. rape, murder, manslaughter, treason or kidnapping) under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.

Occasionally, your counsellor will discuss their work with you with a clinical supervisor – this will be in an anonymised format, to ensure competent practice and to meet BACP ethical guidelines.

Your Rights

Where we rely on your consent to process your information you have the right to withdraw your consent at any time.

However, by withdrawing your consent, we would no longer be able to provide you an intervention from the Counselling Service as we need to maintain client records as part of delivering an ethical service.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation you have a right to a copy of the current personal information held on you by the University.

For more information or requests, or if you have any questions, please contact:

Michael Bryant, Counselling Services Manager by emailing counselling-service (@gold.ac.uk).

You can also visit the Information Commissioner’s website for further information and advice on your rights under both the Data Protection Act and the General Data Protection Regulation.

You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner if you are unhappy with the way your information is being handled. Please see ico.org.uk for further details.