Keeping Things Private and Confidential

Keeping Things Private and Confidential

This document has important information about privacy and confidentiality and how we use your information. Please take time to read it carefully and ask the online team about anything that you are unsure about. We will ask you to confirm you agree with what is written here at the point of registering for our online services and again at the beginning your counselling with us. If you are only signing up for online workshops or for the online drop-in then please disregard the information specific to online counselling.

Your Confidentiality with Us:

> I understand that normally nothing I share with the online team will be passed on to anyone outside Off the Record without my permission.

> I understand that in exceptional circumstances such as:

  • Where the online team thinks that I or someone else is at serious risk of harm;
  • If the online team feels I’m not able to take responsibility for my decisions;
  • In an emergency or when ordered by a court of law

then information about me may have to be shared with someone else even without my permission. Even then, Off the Record will work to involve me in decisions about sharing information wherever possible and will keep me up-to-date with any actions they have taken.

Information Sharing:

> I understand that if I want information to be shared with someone else such as a doctor, teacher or social worker, then I need to discuss this with my counsellor so that we can agree what information is to be shared.

> I understand that if I was referred to Off the Record through the Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) then information may be shared with them, and with the original referrer, as appropriate. This includes sending them a brief letter at the end of my counselling.

> Counsellors sometimes have to provide reports of their work as part of their professional training. I understand that if my counsellor’s work with me is used for such purposes, it will not contain my name or anything else that could identify me in any way. If I would prefer my counsellor not to use our work together in this way, I understand that I can tell my counsellor at any time.

Your Data:

> I understand that Off the Record’s collects and keeps and uses information about me for the purposes below:

  • My name, address, email and telephone numbers which are used to contact me about online counselling, workshops or the drop in
  • Wellbeing forms and staff notes that are used to record how I’m feeling and gather feedback on my online experience
  • Quotes and other feedback about how I experience the online services here which are used anonymously for publicity and reports
  • Details about my age, ethnicity, gender, school/employment and types of issues faced which are used to provide reports to Off the Record’s funders and to check that the service is reaching young people from across the community. (Names are never used in these reports.)

>  Off the Record is also part of national NHS programmes aimed at monitoring and improving mental health services. As part of these programmes, we are asked to provide information about who uses our services and the counselling wellbeing questionnaires. This information is processed by NHS Digital. Information provided from Off the Record to NHS Digital does not include your name but does include postcode and date of birth information which is used to make sure records are not counted twice. Reports produced from NHS Digital do not include any details that could identify you. In agreeing with this policy, you are agreeing to us to us sharing information with NHS Digital in this way.

> I understand that I have a right to see any information kept about me by Off the Record and to have that information corrected or deleted. Please let a member of the online team know if any of your information changes. If I want to see my records, or have my information deleted, I should speak to my online counsellor or write to: Agency Director, Off the Record, 72 Queens Road, Croydon CR0 4PG and I will be provided with my records within one month.

> I understand that I have the right to refuse permission for Off the Record to keep or share my information and to change my mind about this at any time by informing my counsellor or writing to the Agency Director at Off the Record.

> I understand that all information about me will be kept in a secure database, secure cloud storage and/or locked cabinets and is only seen by Off the Record staff directly involved in supporting me or writing reports. Identifiable information will be securely destroyed/deleted 7 years after my final contact with Off the Record or 7 years after my 18th birthday whichever is longer. However, I can ask for information to be deleted at any time by writing to the Agency Director at Off the Record.


> If I am unhappy with the service or the way that I and my information have been treated, then I can complain through Off the Record’s complaints procedure; through the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (of which Off the Record is a member) or to the Information Commissioners Office (with which Off the Record is registered).

Making sure things are confidential online

>  Please check that the IT equipment you are using to does not have monitoring software installed that could compromise your confidentiality.

>  If you are registering for the online workshops service, we ask you to respect that the workshops are a safe and private space and that what is discussed during the session is not talked about afterwards.  At the beginning of each workshop session, your facilitator will remind everyone that what is discussed during that session is private and should not be talked about elsewhere, whether in a future workshop with us, in another online forum, or in a face to face setting with other people.

>  Please choose an anonymous user name when registering for our online services, as this will be visible when you attend a workshop. Please don’t use an inappropriate nickname. If you use a nickname that is rude or offensive you will be asked to change it.

> Your username should not be your name, email address or a username you use regularly on other sites, such as Snapchat, Facebook or even sites like Amazon. This means people will not be able to identify you by looking in a search engine and finding your profiles. If, however, you become aware that someone you meet in a session is someone you know from elsewhere (whether through other websites or through face to face settings) we expect you to always keep their identity to yourself.

I have read and understand the Privacy & Confidentiality statements above and agree to the information I provide to Off the Record being used as detailed here. (If you are unsure or do not agree with all or some of the statements, then please don’t tick the box to agree with this policy.  Instead, please speak to the online counselling team by emailing onlinecounselling@talkofftherecord.org – this won’t affect your right to use our services).