clients as part of your informed consent process.
If you are engaging in distance counselling with clients or allowing the exchange of ther- apeutic material, then you will need an agreement with sufficient detail, orientation and coaching to enable competent, ethically appropriate, and safe client participation. (See CCPA Standard B17 and Chapter guide- lines referenced earlier)
Remember that such counsellor-client ex- changes are part of the client’s counselling record and should be retained for the same period as face-to-face counselling notes. Of course, such a record will be verbatim unlike the counsellor-generated notes after a coun- selling session. I am unsure now if it would be acceptable or advantageous for the coun- sellor to make counsellor notes after each distance counselling session rather than keeping the verbatim record?
If email is to be used only for non-urgent and non-therapeutic purposes such as appoint- ment scheduling, this must be made clear to clients. This practice could also be highlight- ed as a standard footnote on each email. Such as:
Please do not send confidential or urgent information by email. If you have an emergency, please call 123-456- 7890
You could also use this footnote:
This email transmission may contain in- formation that is confidential, privileged, or otherwise protected by federal or pro- vincial statutes. If you have received this email in error, please notify me immedi- ately and permanently delete the trans- mission, including any attachments.
*Be sure to include contact information for each of these footnotes.
If you receive unsolicited emails with clinical questions or personal disclosures from cli- ents or non-clients, you could respond by stating that because of your privacy con- cerns, they are invited to discuss it at their
THE CANADIAN COUNSELLING AND PSYCHOTHERAPY ASSOCIATION SUMMER 2019
next visit or call your office to discuss the is- sue.
For clients who repeatedly fail to adhere to your guidelines, inform them you are termi- nating the email communication.
Request that the client put their name some- where in the body of the email.
Configure your automatic reply to acknowledge receipt of messages and re- quest that clients establish a similar auto- reply feature.
NOTE: Many of these practices also apply with clients in regards to texting, but it will require par- ticular attention to sufficient telephone security. If you email or text with clients at public places, such as airports, hotels, and/or coffee shops (amongst others), ensure that your security systems there are secure.
The Notebook on Ethics, Legal Issues and Standards for Counsellors & Psychotherapists is published in each edition of COGNICA and is an additional ethical resource for CCPA Members.
Previous Notebooks include:
Scope of Practice for Counsellors
Counselling Records: Best Practices for Counsellors and Psychotherapists
A Supreme Court of Canada Decision, and the Goudge Report on Complaints & Discipline
For a compilation of selected Notebooks, refer to our website.
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