Confidentiality and Limits to Confidentiality in Student Counselling Service  

Generally, counsellors will not divulge any information about you outside the service, without your permission.   

Apart from necessary liaison with the Student Health Unit and the Disability Service, the only other situation in which the Counselling Service is obliged to share information is if your counsellor is concerned about a serious risk to life either to you or to someone else and in instances where the name/ identifying details of an abuser of minor children is disclosed to the counsellor.   

We maintain electronic case notes on all clients. These are kept on a confidential, secure system. The notes are there to help the counsellor reflect on your situation and offer the best possible help. Your details are also kept anonymously on a database for statistical purposes only.   

Any personal data which you provide to Student Counselling & Wellbeing will be treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality, in accordance both with Irish and European Data Protection legislation and with codes of ethics and practice for psychologists (PSI) and psychotherapists (IACP, IAHIP). It is necessary for us to collect and process your personal data and data related to your wellbeing and mental health for us to provide you with counselling, consultation and group interventions. We store your information securely and retain counselling records for a period of seven years following termination of counselling in keeping with professional codes of practice.  

  Disclosures of Historical or Current Child Abuse in Counselling 

What happens when an adult client tells a counsellor  that they have been sexually or persistently physically abused or experienced wilful neglect or emotional abuse in childhood?

As well as considering all aspects of the adult client’s safety, wellbeing and recovery, the therapist will have to take into account the child welfare and protection concerns that may arise in relation to the alleged perpetrator (2011 Children First guidelines, 3.6.1).  There are circumstances in which this may impinge on client confidentiality. 

There are 4 possible scenarios: 

  1. The alleged perpetrator is still alive and the therapist is aware that there may be a risk to the safety of specific children or young people.  In this scenario the therapist will report their concerns to Tusla using the standard reporting form. The client will subsequently be contacted by Tusla's child protection social worker who will be tasked with investigating the reported concern.  The therapist will offer advice and support to the client throughout the process.  
  2. The alleged perpetrator is still alive but there are no risks posed to the safety of any child at this time.  In this scenario the therapist is now required under law to notify Tusla of the alleged abuse and the identity of the abuser.  This is known as retrospective notification by a third party.
  3. The alleged perpetrator is still alive but is currently living outside the state. In this case, the therapist is not required to take any further action around child protection. If the client is aware of specific children or young people who may be at risk of abuse in another jurisdiction, they are advised to discuss with their therapist the benefits of contacting child protection authorities there. 
  4.  The alleged perpetrator is no longer alive.  No further action is required by the therapist.   

  OTHER TERMS AND CONDITIONS   

 In certain circumstances, you may be contacted by a screening counsellor via email/phone once you have completed your registration forms.  

If you do not respond to an offer of an assessment appointment within 24 hours, we will take it that you no longer want to avail of counselling at this time unless there are exceptional circumstances. 

After this assessment meeting your counsellor will explain the process for further sessions.   

Student Counselling is a short-term service unless there are exceptional circumstances.   

When a counselling appointment becomes available, you will be contacted by phone/email and asked to respond within 24 hours or the appointment will then be offered to another student.   

You will be sent a reminder of your appointments by email after each appointment and a text reminder 48 hours before your appointment.  

Once you have started counselling, if you do not attend an appointment without contacting the service to cancel 24 hours before the appointment, we will contact you via email about the non-attendance and allow 24 hours for a response. If no response is received, your place will be given to another student.  

If you do not attend a subsequent appointment or cancel with less than 24 hours’ notice, we will assume you no longer wish to attend counselling and assign your place to another student.   

Unattended sessions will be counted as one of the agreed number of sessions unless there are serious reasons for the absence.   

The Student Counselling Service will liaise with the Student Health Unit and the Disability Service, where necessary, in the interest of the student.     

Counselling is a confidential service but there are some limits to confidentiality where there is risk to life or children protection concerns. Please read information on confidentiality above.  

If you are unhappy with any aspect of the service you receive in Student Counselling please let us know by discussing it with your counsellor or by asking to speak with or emailing James McCormack, Head of Counselling james.mccormack@nuigalway.ie.   

 In exceptional circumstances, the Service may need to contact your next of kin in order ensure the safety of yourself or others.