Sunday, January 24, 2021

How Secret Are Sessions, and what else should I know? About Therapy Agreements

When you go and see a mental health professional, you may do no paperwork at all. Or, you may be asked to sign screeds of incomprehensible bumpf.  With me, it's a bit in the middle.

I'm hot on informed consent, meaning that I want my clients to understand exactly what terms govern our sessions. 

However, ethics can be complex, and clients are not up for a three week discussion on the subject.

Also, many of my clients speak English as a second, third or fourth language, so it's important to keep terms simple.  

So what I do is offer clients a short chat about the basics before we start, and then I send them a very simple agreement afterwards. My main aim is to make sure we agree and that we have the emergency contact details in place. 

If you're curious about terms, Alvin and I talk about the basics, plus basic ethical issues, in Reaching Out: Your Easy Guide to Finding Affordable Quality Online Therapy A Practitioner's Perspective available FREE on Amazon, Google Play, Kobo and other shops.

And this is my agreement;

Therapy Agreement

Benefits and Risks of Therapy

Therapy is about helping you make changes in your life.

Therapy can help you feel better about yourself, understand and improve relationships, cope with stress and many other issues.

Sometimes though talking about problems or remembering bad times can be uncomfortable.

Age and Consent

I work with adults only, so you must be over 18 years of age. 

Confidentiality

We need to keep you safe and our sessions as secret as possible.

Everything we discuss is secret. EXCEPT: 

·         If I believe you are actively suicidal, or

·         If I believe you are going to hurt yourself badly, or

·         If I believe you are going to try and hurt someone else,

If this happens, we ask your emergency contact to help.  I won’t do this without telling you first, and we can tell them together.

·         If you ask me to talk to your doctor, HR or other person.

I will write a letter and give it to you. Then you decide who gets to see it and when.

Finally,

·         If the police or a court judge tells me I have to answer questions I have to obey because it’s the law.

Notes

When we talk, we exchange a lot of information.  You will see me take notes. This is because I check our progress after we speak.

The notes are secret – but not from you. I will send you the notes the day after our session.

How We Talk

We talk over online video Skype, WhatsApp, Messenger or Google Meet. 

Our sessions are intensive, and there should be no interruptions. While we talk, our phones are off. 

Also, do not talk to me from bed. This is a professional session. Be up and dressed.

Scheduling Sessions

We will schedule sessions in advance. Be on time!

If you have to cancel, do so 24 hours before our session. If you do not cancel in time, I will charge for the session.

You can email me at ellen.whyte@gmail.com and you can send me an SMS or WhatsApp to XXXXX.  I will answer as soon as I can. However, my phone is off at night, and when I am in meetings.

In the event of a lightning strike or other issue that kills our computer connection, we communicate over WhatsApp.

Mid Therapy Termination

If you decide this isn’t working for you, or you’ve changed your mind, please just tell me.  There are no termination fees.  You also keep all the notes so you can work with someone else.

Although it’s a very rare event, I sometimes call a halt to a therapy relationship. I do this if:

·         I think you need to see a different professional.

·         I think you're not interested in the sessions.

·         You turn up late too often or are on your phone with others.

Fees

First 20 minute session: free

Notes service: free

Session: RM100 if you pay directly into my bank. US$35 over PayPal

I invoice the day after the session. Please pay promptly.

I love what I do but I don't want to be involved in endless hassles over payment. So it's 'pay as you go'. If you decide not to pay after a session, our relationship ends.

I am a private practitioner and do not work with insurance companies.

Security

I use firewalls and systems to keep your notes safe. Please make sure you do the same thing.

Don't use company phones and email; use your own private phone and email.

I have had the opportunity to discuss any questions I have about this information and I agree to the terms.

If you've questions, feel free to ask.