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Confidentiality, Data Protection & Complaints

Code of Ethics & Policy on Confidentiality

The University Counselling Service works to the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 'Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions: 2016'. Everything you have put in the Pre-counselling Form, and the content of all counselling sessions is confidential. Under all normal circumstances, nothing will be revealed to anyone outside the service without your express permission.

In very rare circumstances we reserve the right to break confidentiality. These are only where there appears to be a serious and imminent risk to your own or to other's safety, or if we are made aware of serious illegal activities. Even in these circumstances we would normally seek to speak to you first before contacting anyone else. Please ask if you have any questions on this policy.

How we process your personal data

The Service handles your personal data carefully under the terms of the General Data Protection Regulation. This means that:

  • We ask your consent to process your personal data when you complete a pre-counselling form, pre-SAHA form or MHA confidentiality agreement.
  • You are able to withdraw your consent to process your personal data and can do so by contacting counsellingreception@admin.cam.ac.uk. As accurate records are essential to the ethical practice of the Student Counselling Service, an outcome of withdrawing your consent is that we would be unable to work with you.
  • We use your personal information to ensure you are eligible to use the Service, to arrange the most appropriate support for you and to contact you.
  • On your first contact with the Service, we create a confidential secure electronic file that will contain: a copy of the pre-counselling/pre-SAHA/MHA confidentiality agreement and CCAPS forms, a record of your attendance (including missed or cancelled appointments), notes of sessions, any other contact or correspondence you have with the Service, or contact with others on your behalf or about your care. Having a complete account of your involvement with us helps us to support you as a user of our Service.
  • The information is held on a computer database and is held securely on a university server. All access to the database is password protected.
  • We do not share your data beyond the Service unless (i) you ask us to do so or (ii) there is a serious and imminent risk to your own or to other's safety, or when we are legally obliged to do so, or (iii) with your separate and clear consent.
  • We retain this information for seven academic years beyond the end of the academic year of your last involvement with the Service. After this time, the data will be securely destroyed.
  • Any incomplete forms we receive will be retained and deleted at the end of that administrative academic year (if no further application has been made in that time), or if you have decided not to use the Service you can request that this information be deleted.
  • You can request to see or have a copy of the personal data that the service holds on you. You can ask the staff member you are working with about this, contact the Service by email or complete the University's Data Subject Access Request Form: https://www.information-compliance.admin.cam.ac.uk/data-protection/subject-access-request.
  • We use data to compile anonymous statistics about the use of the Service and for research purposes.

You will be reminded of our confidentiality and record keeping policy when you have an appointment with us and you are welcome to ask any questions about it.

The Data Protection Representative for the Student Service is Hanya Czepkowski.

For more general information about the University's use of your personal information while you are a student, please see https://www.information-compliance.admin.cam.ac.uk/data-protection/student-data.

Complaints

The Service has its own Complaints Policy, complementing the University's procedures and those of professional bodies to which counsellors belong.  Please speak to your counsellor or contact the UCS Reception if you want details.