Informed Consent & Confidentiality Agreement for the Provision of Online Counselling Services
Purpose and Nature of Counselling
When people engage in counselling, they are often ready for change in some aspect of their life. Counselling can lead to improved mental health by helping you better understand your thoughts, emotions and behaviours. It can also improve your relationships, how you relate to others, and the world. The number of counselling sessions you have depends on the goals you set and how long it takes to reach these goals. Your counsellor will work collaboratively with you to help you set and achieve your goals while facilitating personal growth through the counselling process.
Counselling presents both benefits and risks. The benefits include, but are not limited to, better relationships, solutions to specific problems, an increased sense of well-being, and a reduction of distressing symptoms. However, because counselling tends to bring up uncomfortable feelings and difficult memories, people sometimes feel worse before they begin to feel better. Some find that, as they experiment with new ways of thinking and behaving, relationships with others are altered or disrupted. You are encouraged to share any feelings of fear, concern or doubt about the counselling process with us at any time during your sessions.
Collection and Storage of Personal Information
We maintain records on the content of our sessions, which are locked in a secure location, and can only be accessed by Okanagan Clinical Counselling Services. This is done in accordance with BCACC guidelines and the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).
We offer a free twenty-minute initial consultation, via email or phone, to identify your concerns and/or reasons for seeking our services. You also have an opportunity to ask any questions you have about the counselling process and to see if you feel we are a “good fit”. Subsequent session fees range from $90 to $125 and depend on the type of counselling chosen. A standard 50-minute counselling session costs $120, according to BCACC fee guidelines. Costs will vary depending on type of counselling chosen. For instance, a video session with your counsellor will cost more than email counselling. We also have sliding fee options available for clients in need. If finances are a concern for you, please discuss this with your counsellor.
Payment is due prior to each session and can be made through Visa, or MasterCard. Please contact us to provide payment. If you wish to change or cancel an appointment, please provide 24 hours notice via email or phone. If you miss your appointment or do not provide 24 hours notice, you will be charged the full amount of the session.
IMPORTANT: Procedural Concerns for Phone and Video Counselling
Due to the nature of these modalities and possibility sessions may be interrupted using our secure online software or with internet connections, it is important to note that you are agreeing to the potential of technical issues. If a technical issue occurs, we will contact you as soon as we can, to either resume the session or reschedule the remaining portion of the session. Although rare, there are times we may not have an internet connection or there may be a client emergency. If we are not online within ten minutes of our scheduled time, you will be given a credit for a session and we will contact you at our earliest opportunity to reschedule.
You can contact us by email at or by phone at 250-718-9291. You can reach us by phone during regular business hours, Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm. We make every attempt to return phone calls as soon as possible, however, if we are in session all day, we may have to return your call the following business day. If you need to contact us between sessions, the best way to do so is by email.
If you have an emergency after hours, please call 911, or your local crisis line contact. In BC, this number is 1-800-784-2433. For youth aged 5-20 years old, contact Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868.
As a client, you have the right to:
– Refuse a particular counselling technique or to stop counselling at any time
– Be referred to another counsellor or health professional
– Withdraw consent for the collection, use, or disclosure of your personal information, except where precluded by law, and access or obtain a copy of the information in your counselling records, subject to legal requirements
– To ask questions about our approach, background and experience or any other topics that will impact your ability or choice to engage in counselling
– To refuse or say no to anything we suggest or any approach we use
Given that online counselling can occur anywhere in the world, OCCS counsellors are happy to treat clients vacationing or residing outside of Canada or the USA. However, should a legal claims be brought forth by a client as a result of online counselling with an OCCS counsellor, the client agrees to file the demand or proceeding inside Canada or the United States of America. The client understands and agrees that any legal suite needs to be file in Canada and the USA in the result of a concern from their counselling.
All information you share with us is strictly confidential and will not be released without your voluntary and written consent. As part of routine practice, we may, on occasion, consult a clinical supervisor on your case in order to provide you with the best care. Your confidentiality will be strictly maintained and your name will not be used. There are limitations to the confidentiality described above and these include:
– Reporting of suspected child abuse or neglect
– Complying with the requirements of a child protection investigation
– Complying with a subpoena
– Responding to a threat of harm to self or others
Client confidentiality is of utmost importance, however online communication is not 100% secure. There are risks involved and it is important that you are aware we cannot guarantee your protection. Common videoconferencing services, such as Skype, and are not secure and data is stored in web servers and thus subject to electronic monitoring. We use software that has increased security, however it is important that you secure your privacy as much as possible. All of our counsellors’ information is secured according to HIPAA policy regulation. If a breach occurs, we will remedy it as soon as it is discovered by taking the necessary steps to recover your personal information, secure remaining information and notify all parties involved immediately. If these risks are of concern to you, in person or telephone counselling are alternative ways to connect with one of our counsellors.
If it appears that you are imminently about to harm yourself or someone else, we are ethically and legally obligated to let someone know. More important than the legal obligations, though, are our concerns for your health and safety, and that of those with whom you interact.