Benefits and Risks
Most people engaging in therapy achieve beneficial results. Through therapy you may gain a clearer understanding of the assumptions you hold about yourself and the world around you. You many gain insight into your goals and values, and develop skills that will help you achieve those goals. Counselling can become the setting in which you are free to explore and analyze the effects of past experiences on you today. Some people are surprised to achieve positive changes and insights that were not expected or planned.
Therapy does have potential risks, however. Therapy takes time and requires you to rehash and re-experience events in your life that may cause you discomfort and evoke strong emotions. The ultimate goal of therapy is to set you free of symptoms so that you are able to be aware, and experience your possibilities in life. It is a process of self-exploration and growth. This requires change and all change can be effortful, scary and disruptive to current conditions. Thus, you may find that therapy will make you feel worse before you begin to feel better. It is important that these possibilities are considered before you make the decision to engage in therapy. However, if you do choose to move forward, you and your Counsellor will work together to manifest the goals of therapy in the best way possible.
The information you reveal in counselling sessions will be confidential with a few exceptions. In other words, the Counsellor will not disclose anything discussed in sessions without your permission, to any third party, unless the following situations arise:
- If there is suspicion of child abuse or abuse of vulnerable adults
- If there is suspicion of serious and imminent risk of physically harming yourself or others
- If you reveal to Counsellor that you have been sexually abused by another regulated health professional
- If the court subpoenas your records
The Counsellor may legally share information with a third party if you direct them to do so, and you may revoke this decision at any time.
Confidentiality is limited in group therapy. Because of the number of individuals involved in group therapy, whether it is couples’ therapy or family therapy, the Counsellor is not solely able to control the flow of information from the group to outside of the counselling setting.
As well, in couples/family therapy, if you or your partner decide to include individual sessions as an extension to group therapy, what you say in those individual sessions are still considered joint sessions. Please do not disclose information that you would like to be kept a secret from your partner in these sessions. Your Counsellor will remind you of this policy before you begin your individual sessions.
There is also limited confidentiality when communicating electronically. Any email sent and received may be printed out, filed, and then deleted by the Counsellor. If the email sent is unencrypted, it is not completely confidential. Technically, all emails are retained by the Internet provider and can, in theory, be accessed by them.
Overview of informed consent
Giving your informed consent represents your active participation with the decisions made in the counselling process. Informed consent is a continuous process. If at any time, you feel uncomfortable with the process, you have the right to refuse and/or withdraw from counselling.
You have the right to ask any questions you may have about therapy. You have the right to refuse any counselling techniques or terminate counselling at any time.
It is common practice in counselling to maintain brief records of sessions and progress. These records will mainly note your presence, what interventions were used in session, and the topics of discussion during sessions. You are entitled to a copy of your records, or should you wish, a summary of your sessions can be prepared for you. The Counsellor will keep your records in a secure location The Counsellor will not use your personal information for any purpose other than delivering counselling services to you.
It is expected that you will attend appointments on time and will make every effort, to advise the Counsellor, at least 24 hours in advance, if you cannot make the appointment. Missed appointments may incur late fees. Multiple misses may result in termination of service.
Goals for Counselling
You will collaborate with your counsellor to determine goals that are specific, observable, measurable, and concrete. Goals usually are one of three types: (1) those that change the doing of the problematic situation; (2) those that change the viewing of the situation or frame of reference; and/or (3) those that help clients access resources, solutions, and strengths. You do not need to establish goals prior to attending your first session; this will be discussed in detail with your counsellor as the counselling progresses.
Telephone, text or email communication
Agency Policy is that texting/emailing is only used for appointment reminders / if you forgot when next appointment was and need a reminder; the Counsellor is unable to communicate about anything else via text.
Please note that if you contact your Counsellor by text/email or leave a phone message, they may not be available to reply for several hours or possibly several days. We are an outpatient service, with services typically offered for 50 minutes once per week; this may not be sufficient to meet your needs. If you are struggling between counselling sessions, please consider contacting resources listed in a separate tab on our website.
If you requested counselling services with an Intern Counsellor in practicum, be aware that you may be asked to have counselling sessions recorded. The purpose of the recording is for the Intern’s continuous professional development – that the focus is not at all on you, but rather on ensuring the Intern Counsellor is doing the best clinical work possible. The recording would only be reviewed by the Intern’s school and site supervisors, and that it would be destroyed shortly after review.
Moving Forward Family Services Society is committed to providing an environment free from unacceptable conduct and behavior. Behaviors that require staff intervention may include but not limited to safety issues, disruptive or inappropriate behaviours, and harassment. Such interventions may include ending sessions early / terminating the therapeutic relationship.
Persons Under the Influence
Relevant staff, Clinical Supervisors, Manager and/or the Executive Director will request any person entering the Moving Forward Family Services Society to leave if they are under the influence of substances such as alcohol or drugs
However, this action does not occur under these circumstances:
- If it is determined by the program staff in consultation with the clinical supervisor and manager to be the client’s best interest to remain at the Moving Forward Family Services Society facility briefly in order to receive assessment counselling services
- The person under the influence is a minor
Moreover, if the individual under the influence has driven to the Moving Forward Family Services Society facility and insists on returning to their car, a staff member is to inform the individual that the Police will be notified.
If the individual insists on driving their car, the staff member will provide appropriate information to the local police detachment such as license plate number, model of the care, a description of the driver, and the direction of travel of the care.
Before beginning online or telephone sessions
Before we begin, there are a few protocols the agency wants me to cover.
- I realize that this may feel ‘weird,’ and different, and it may take time to adjust to this format for counselling. By having an open dialogue about what is working well and what can use some attention, we should be able to address any issues that arise
- Please ensure that the audio and video (if using video) is working at an optimal level
- It is important to find a space where the chances of being interrupted are minimized. So, I would ask you to find a quite place where you will not be interrupted during the session.
- If engaging in online therapy, sometimes the closer you are to your modem, the better the reception.
- Please ensure that you have privacy and feel comfortable in that space. It is important to find a space that is conducive to doing therapeutic work, so the space should be as uncluttered as possible
- Please refrain from using any substances that may impair your ability to engage (with the exception of any medications – though if these medications impair please try to take well before or after the session if at all possible)
- Feel free to bring something to drink, such as coffee, tea, juice or water
- Please sit comfortably, preferably in a chair. It is best to sit the same way you would sit if we were sitting across from each other in a counselling office
- If at any time you feel the need to adjust the environment, or your audio and/or video, please don’t hesitate to speak up
- Please feel free to offer suggestions on any other ways we can make these counselling sessions as comfortable as possible for you
- Set-up for video conferencing. In order to best simulate an in-person interaction, I would like to see you from chest up or waist up. As much of what we communicate is through body language, it is ideal if I can see more than just your face.
- If for any reason the call or video drops, please wait and I will try to reconnect. If unable to reconnect I may call you from a more secure phone line. This phone line may show up as ‘private’
- Reminder that I will only be online/calling for the scheduled session, and that texting/calls outside of those times should only be if you need to reschedule an appointment. Any personal matters arising outside of the session during the course of the week should be saved for the set appointment.
- The agency phone I use is internet-based, and is turned off when I am not on practicum. Any messages therefore may not be seen for several days