Informed Consent & Confidentiality

What is Informed Consent? 

Informed Consent refers to entering an agreement with a good understanding of what you are agreeing to or making a decision after being informed of the risks and benefits of your decision.  By reading the information below, you can more confidently consent to counselling and select your preference from any of options available to you.

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Therapy: Risks & Benefits

 

Benefits of Therapy

 

  • Therapy can help a person gain awareness and understanding about problems, acquire new ways of coping and engaging in self-care, develop interpersonal skills, and change behaviour patterns. 

  • Therapy can contribute to an increase in understanding of oneself and others and promotes wellness. 

  • Therapy can reduce suffering and increase self-compassion and quality of life.

 

Risks of Therapy

 

  • Therapy may stimulate memories and evoke strong feelings.

  • Clients may feel worse before they feel better. This is especially a concern for clients with a history of trauma. 

  • In some cases it can be difficult to find the right therapist.  People seeking therapy may try more than one therapist before finding someone to whom they feel they can entrust their story and feel that they are being well served.

  • Therapists vary on how long it takes them to reply to a client who is in need.  A person in crisis could feel unsupported if they could not reach their therapist in a timely manner.

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Online Therapy: Risks, Benefits, & More

Virtual therapy can be highly effective but does not entirely offer the same experience as face-to-face therapy.  As it is a relatively new phenomenon, only a small amount of research exists to support its effectiveness.  Therefore it should be considered somewhat experimental.  At the same time, I would not offer it if I had concerns about its ability to help my clients.  Please review the pros and cons below to see if virtual therapy might be a fit for you.  

 

In the case of an issue with technology, as will be discussed below, my policy is to quickly send my client a Zoom link for us to carry out the remainder of the session.

 

Benefits of Online Therapy

  • If you live in a remote area of BC you will still have a wide range of therapists who can serve you.

  • You can receive counselling from the comforting surroundings of your own home, or even while travelling.

  • You are able access help even if anxiety or another disability prevents you from leaving the house.

  • You get to avoid the potential stress of traffic, parking, etc.

  • It offers more flexibility with scheduling and it saves time. 

  • Online therapy can be less intimidating.

 

Risks or Drawbacks of Online Therapy

  • Occasional technology issues are inevitable (i.e., power outages, screens freezing, system crashes, difficulties accessing the online platform).

  • If a client becomes  very upset, in crisis, suicidal, or homicidal, it could be much harder for the therapist to intervene.

  • It can be harder for the therapist to pick up on the client’s body language or cues.

  • Interruption or distraction caused by pets in your home or the therapist’s home office.  

  • There are potential difficulties in verifying the identity of both parties.

  • The client must be comfortable with computers and keyboards.

  • The client can experience less support when they are upset during a session.

  • Their home space may be less calming than the experience of the therapist’s office.

  • Specific therapies may need to be carried out a bit differently.

 

When to Avoid Online Therapy

  • You have serious thoughts of hurting yourself or others.

  • You have chronic mental health concerns requiring intense treatment.

  • You don’t have a space where your privacy is assured.

  • You value the ambiance of the counselling office.

  • You seek the experience of being deeply, emotionally supported, or do not want to feel alone when you are letting yourself be vulnerable.

 

Alternatives to Online Therapy

  • Try face-to-face therapy with a mental health professional.

  • Try a support group.

  • Use family or friends as supports.

  • Call crisis lines.

  • Purchase or borrow self-help books and workbooks from the library.

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Confidentiality & Limits of Confidentiality

 

Confidentiality is considered key to clients feeling safe sharing their stories in counselling.  What occurs in sessions remains confidential in almost all circumstances, unless:

  • I become concerned that you are at imminent risk of harming yourself or others. 

  • I fear that a child or vulnerable adult could be being neglected or abused. 

  • My records are subpoenaed by a court order.

 

I make brief chart notes following sessions.  Please note that the collection and storage of this information is in compliance with PIPA (Personal Information Protection Act) in BC.