This resource provides examples of points you may need to add to your existing counselling agreements if you're moving to telephone or online counselling during the coronavirus crisis. It is is not exhaustive and you should review and amend it to reflect your practice.
Counselling agreement additions and amendments during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis
During the period of the crisis, the usual conditions of our initial counselling agreement together still apply. This document details a few additional points that I would like you to acknowledge, while we are unable to meet face-to-face and are instead meeting only via telephone or video-conferencing platforms.
We have already discussed together whether it is appropriate and helpful to continue your counselling at this time, and if so, how we might approach the sessions. We will review this on a regular basis to check how things are working for you and to discuss any necessary changes. My aim is to make these sessions as useful as possible while also ensuring the counselling process remains confidential and effective. It's understandable that you may feel more anxious at this time - this is something that affects everyone in different ways, sometimes unexpectedly.
- You should do all you can to find a private and undisturbed place for our sessions. If you feel confident that you cannot be overheard, you will be able to engage in the session more fully. You may need to be creative about finding confidential space, perhaps even sitting outside in the car, if you have one. (You will also need to ensure that any vulnerable members of your household have adequate care and supervision for this time. If this is not possible, we may need to review the suitability of the service I am able to offer.)
- We both agree not to make any kind of recording of sessions conducted by phone or video-link.
- You are responsible for the security of your devices, including using password-protection and regularly updating any virus-checkers and firewalls installed. (Please discuss any concerns with me).
- As far as is possible, I will ensure that the devices I use are safe and secure.
If we lose our connection due to technological difficulties, I will always attempt to re-establish the connection. If this is not possible, I will contact you by an alternative method (such as email or phone) to either continue the session or reschedule.
[You may want to include whether a full session fee is still payable if, part way through a session, you are unable to continue and need to reschedule.]
Meeting me in your home environment may make the process feel more informal, which may affect how you prepare for and experience our meetings. It can help the counselling process if you:
Turn off other devices (such as phones, TV) during our session to minimise distractions.
Set up a space where you can sit comfortably for the duration of the session. Ideally you should set up your device so you can use it hands-free while you remain clearly visible, with adequate lighting, without having to make adjustments as we talk.
Practical arrangements and contact
We will limit any contact by email or telephone in between sessions to practical arrangements and information only. Sensitive and personal material should be kept for the session itself. I am unable to accept invitations from you on any other form of social media.
Fees, payment and cancellations
My fees will remain the same, unless we agree to review them. During the coronavirus crisis...
[include information about whether you will be flexible about late cancellations, especially in the case of illness - either your own or that of someone else in your household]
If I become seriously ill and am unable to contact you, I have a formal arrangement with a counselling colleague who can access my client contact details. They will inform you of the situation and discuss alternative arrangements with you. My colleague will only receive your contact details in the case of a serious emergency.
[include your payment instructions and, if appropriate, bank details or details of payment service being used]