Being open with care
While Covid restrictions are being changed often, counselling professional bodies are urging members to continue with risk mitigation procedures. The face-to-face conversational element of therapy, combined with the length of exposure during a typical therapy session, could put us at particular risk. The following precautions are in place to keep you as safe as possible while also giving you the option for in-person sessions.
Covid Policy for in-person sessions
Each client must consider the following, and disclose to myself any risks, before deciding to have face-to-face therapy
- Face to face therapy is unsuitable for a client who has an underlying health condition which could increase his / her vulnerability to contracting COVID19.
- Face to face therapy is unsuitable for a client who has close contact with people who might be vulnerable to contracting COVID19 or who are shielding.
- Limits of confidentiality. My contract refers to the limits of confidentiality including balancing confidentiality with public interest including public health. Under this clause, I may need to share your name and contact details with the Government Track and Trace if myself or another client contracts the virus. In these circumstances, confidentiality may be broken if necessary for reasons of public health.
- In-person sessions may suddenly have to be conducted online for Covid-related reasons e.g. Government or professional body guidelines, need for either of us to self-isolate or quarantine.
- Alternative methods of conducting some sessions can be considered to reduce the risk of infection e.g. walking therapy outdoors, sitting back to back (not face to face), alternating online with in-person sessions.
- Each client must consider the risks of getting to and from each session, such as getting public transport. Please note that car parking is available on the premises by prior arrangement.
Action to be taken to prevent infection
- Each party holds an obligation to be aware of and report to the other, any factors which may occur which could increase the risk of infection during face to face sessions. Please raise with me any concerns you have in this regard.
- Please continue to carefully consider the cost/benefit of face-to-face therapy for yourself given the current risk of contracting COVID19 and your changing circumstances.
- You can choose to move your session or all of your therapy online with just one hour’s notice should you be worried about possibly having been exposed to the virus.
- Please do not arrive much before the time of your appointment. If you are early, please consider taking a walk outside rather than waiting in the passageway outside of my office. For health and safety concerns, a chair may not always be placed there.
- All clients must use hand sanitiser (provided unless you would prefer to use your own) on entering and leaving the sessions. I will also sanitise my hands at the start of each session. The hand sanitiser is there for your use at any time during the session should you need to use it.
- Face masks must be worn by clients and myself unless you meet an exemption according to latest government guidance. See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own/face-coverings-when-to-wear-one-and-how-to-make-your-own
- Water will be provided in plastic cups and please consider bringing your own. Your face mask will need to be replaced between each sip.
- Please place tissues in a plastic bag provided and take them with you to discard them outside of the premises. Tissues will be provided if you have not brought your own. Please use the hand sanitiser each time after touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
- We will remain at least one meter apart at all times including upon you entering and leaving the room. I will open the therapy room door at your session time, and please walk directly into the room and sit in the client chair. We will be seated at least one meter apart. Couples will be assumed to be of the same household and will not be seated one meter apart from each other. If couples are not living together, they must inform me as soon as possible to ensure that social distancing protocols as relevant are followed.
- Seats will be covered in plastic to ensure quick and thorough cleaning between sessions.
- Surfaces and door handles will be disinfected before each session. Air disinfectant will also be sprayed before each client enters the room.
- Every effort will be taken to ventilate the room as fully and frequently as possible by opening the windows. At the same time, every effort will be made ensure comfort of temperature in the room and to maintain confidentiality. If you at any point become uncomfortable with the open / closed windows, please let me know.
- Clients will be required to settle their bill online before each session to prevent the need for the handling of cash, cards and card readers.
In the event of an infection or a need to self-isolate or quarantine
- Sessions will need to be conducted online and may need to be paused at short notice in the event of a positive diagnosis, a localised or national lockdown, or should either one of us be required to self-isolate or quarantine.
- In the event that I become unwell or test positive for the COVID19 virus, I will ensure that clients are alerted as soon as possible. You are required to inform me as soon as possible of the same.
- Important implication for confidentiality. In the event that I become unwell or test positive for the COVID19 virus, it is likely that I will be interviewed by contact tracing teams about people I have been in contact with. I would then be obligated to disclose your name and contact details (but not necessarily the context in which I know you) in the interests of public health. Likewise, should you become unwell or test positive for the COVID19 virus, you will be obligated to let the contact tracers know that you have been to see me.
- The 24-hour cancellation policy still applies. If you have symptoms, you are to give at least 24-hours notice if you cannot do your session online.
- If either one of us develop symptoms of COVID19, we will let the other know at the soonest opportunity and arrange for sessions to continue online until 14 days after the symptoms have subsided.
Brief risk assessment at the beginning of each session
25. Before beginning the session, I will briefly discuss with you the following risk assessment and the session may need to be cancelled if there is any risk to either of us and the cancellation policy will still apply. Please let me know as soon as reasonably possible ahead of your session if you can answer ‘yes’ to any of these questions:
- Are you waiting for a COVID-19 test or test result?
- Have you or anyone in your household, or anyone in your support bubble have, or have had, possible COVID-19, or are you still in the self/household isolation period?
- Have you, anyone in your household, or anyone in your support bubble tested positive for COVID-19?
- If you entered or returned to the UK in the last 14 days, are you required to self- isolate?
- If you have been notified by NHS Test and Trace that you’ve been in contact with a person with COVID-19, are you still in the isolation period?
- Do you, anyone in your household, or anyone in your support bubble have any symptoms of COVID-19 – including:
a) a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
b) a loss or change in normal sense of smell or taste
c) high temperature – 37.8°C or over