This is a text-based service, where your conversations with your counsellor are typed here on our site. It is not a phone or video service.
To get started with online (text-based counselling), we need you to carefully read and agree to the information below. We understand it’s a bit long, so please choose a time when you have a few quiet minutes to read it carefully – if you have any questions, let us know :)
Is what I say confidential?
When you register for online counselling, you are asked to confirm that you want counselling and that you are not being pressured into doing so by someone else.
We also ask you to read and agree to our Keeping things Private and Confidential policy. Counselling is private and nothing that you share in counselling will be passed on to anyone outside of Off the Record without your permission, apart from in an exceptional circumstance such as:
- Where my counsellor thinks that I or someone else is at serious risk of harm.
- If the counsellor feels I’m not able to take responsibility for my decisions.
- In an emergency or when ordered by a court of law
In these cases, information may have to be shared with someone else even without your permission. Even then, Off the Record will work to involve you in decisions about sharing information wherever possible and will keep you up to date with any actions they have taken.
Please check that the device you are using (laptop/pc/phone) does not have pre-installed monitoring software that may compromise your confidentiality. Some schools/colleges/workplaces have monitoring software on all of their IT equipment.
What happens next?
Once you are given a counsellor, they will only be available to work with you once a week. Your counsellor will either write you a counselling message (like email) or have a live chat (like texting) session with you once a week at the same agreed time. If you message in between this time, your counsellor will probably not respond until your next session. (If you are in crisis and need help outside your session, click here for more information about what to do next).
We usually offer an exchange of six counselling messages or live chat sessions:
- If you choose messaging, you should send your counsellor no more than 1,000 words every week. Lots of small messages throughout the week is fine, or just one big message. You will receive one reply each week.
- If you choose live-chat, sessions will take place at the same time every week, for 50 minutes.
Each session we will ask you to complete some short forms (called CORE forms) to find out how you’ve been feeling over the last seven days. This might feel a bit like a ‘tick box’ exercise, but filling in the forms really helps us to understand what’s going on for you and also whether your counselling is helping to improve how you’re feeling. If you fill in a form, it will always be read and acknowledged by your counsellor.
If you have a session and cannot attend, please send your counsellor a message. If you don’t tell us you can’t attend, your counsellor will write to you asking you to make contact and if you’ve agreed to receive text reminders then we’ll drop you a text too.
If we don’t hear from you within 14 days, we will assume no longer wish to continue counselling at this time. You can always come back to online counselling if things get difficult again. Simply click on ‘I need to speak to a counsellor’ on our home page and we will begin processing your request within 72 hours. (Please note, we do advise a 12 week break in between periods of counselling and sometimes we may be unable to allocate you to the same counsellor you were working with before).
From time to time there may be problems with computer or internet connections, either at your end or with us.
- If we have a technical issue - we will normally contact you via email or phone, using the details you give us when you register.
- If you are having technical issue - and are unable to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org then please call 020 8251 0251 or 020 8680 8899.
It can be annoying and even upsetting if technical problems get in the way of your counselling, however briefly. It can help to be prepared for the possibility (maybe speak to your counsellor in advance if you think this will stress you out a lot, so you can come up with a plan to manage it together) and remember that we will be keen to keep working with you as soon as we can.
Feedback and Complaints
Feedback is very important to us and we want to hear about your experience of using our services, whether it is good or bad. We will send you a ‘CHI’ form asking for feedback during you counselling and you can also use the button on our homepage 'I want to give feedback' to tell us how things are going. If you wish to make a complaint, there is more information on our complaints procedure on our website here.
What do I need to do now?
Please send us a message (to The Online Counselling Team using the 'Chat'), confirming you have read and agree to this counselling agreement, including the confidentiality policy. Once we receive your reply, you will be ready to be allocated to an ongoing counsellor and we will be in touch as we have a space available.