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Instant Messaging Counselling Guidelines

Timing

Counselling is likely to work most effectively if we communicate every week, except where we have arranged not to meet (e.g. holidays, other commitments). So, we will organise a regular time for each week. Each session will last 50 minutes.

Some Tips on using Skype Instant Messaging

Sometimes we may want a silence, to think things through. So if there is a silence, I’ll type a full stop every so often to let you know I am still there (or you can type a full stop).

If you want to say something lengthy, it’s helpful if you send me part of what you are saying while you are still saying it; then I can read as you go along. Every couple of sentences or so, type three dots (. . . ) and press Send. The three dots alert me that you haven’t finished yet. Similarly, I’ll type three dots if I’m continuing to speak.

If you like using emoticons, it’s fine to use them. If you don’t like them, just don’t add them. Your choice!

Staying Safe

Skype has built-in security, it automatically encrypts all communication and messages sent through Skype.

I have the Skype privacy settings at ‘No History’ and will keep transcripts of the Skype sessions, or email exchanges, password protected on my computer.  These will be permanently deleted six years after you last make contact with the Counselling Service.

If we lose contact on Skype

If we can’t contact each other, for some reason, or if we lose contact on Skype, I’ll send you an email. You can do the same with me. So, if we are out of touch, check your email. Also, if my computer has broken (unlikely, but it could happen), I’ll contact you by phone just to say why I’m not online, then we’ll reschedule. I’ll probably send a text to your mobile. Let me know if you do not want me to do this.

If you can’t find me on Skype at our arranged time, and have no email, text or phone call from me, please contact our reception on 02920 879572. Let them know you expected a session, but can’t get hold of me. If your computer breaks down, please phone Reception to update us and to reschedule.

About how I work

I aim to help you move forward through reflecting on yourself and your situation. I will not routinely give advice, though I may suggest a different way of seeing something. You are very welcome to comment on how you feel about my replies – what you found helpful, or anything you disagree with!

I hope that online counselling will be helpful for you, but it isn’t for everyone. If things are not progressing well, either of us can say so. If necessary, we can discuss if another type of help is better for you.

Confidentiality

Who I talk to
There are a few limits on confidentiality, as described below. Otherwise, everything you tell me is completely confidential. I would not discuss you with your tutors, GP, family, or friends, unless you have given me permission, and we both think it would be helpful.

I may discuss you with a supervisor -most counsellors have regular supervision. I also discuss my work with the small team of counsellors at Cardiff University. My supervisor and other counsellors keep everything confidential.

Limitations to confidentiality
In most circumstances I will not break confidentiality. The circumstances where I might consider breaking confidentiality are:

  • If you are at risk of severely hurting yourself or someone else;
  • If the law requires it (there are very few circumstances, please ask if you want to know more).

Complaints

I will be doing my best to help you. If you have difficulties with how we are working, please let me know, so that together we can determine what you need.
Should you feel that you have cause for complaint, you should write in the first instance to the Head of Counselling who will seek to deal with the matter informally.  He can be contacted through the counselling reception

If you wish to make a complaint against the Head of Counselling you should in the first instance write to the Director of REGOS who will seek to deal with the matter informally.
Should you wish to follow the University Complaints Procedure you should seek the appropriate section of the University’s Corporate Compliance website, complaints procedure

I work to the Ethical Framework of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). If you are unsatisfied with the response from the Head of Counselling, and Director of REGOS, you can contact BACP directly at BACP Complaints.  All complaints will be taken seriously.

Security

Your computer
It is always wise to have an anti-virus programme installed on your computer. You can contact INSRV if you need further advice on this.

Neither I, nor Cardiff University (Counselling Service), can be held responsible for any damage to your computer.

How I secure my records
I will keep your messages on my computer. My computer is password protected. Only limited members of the Counselling Service staff have access to your records.

How long I keep records for
I keep records for six years after counselling ends. Then I delete records from my computer and shred print-outs.

Reference: Judi Brosnan Oxford Brookes University, Counselling Service.