Online Counselling Security: The Question of Privacy, Confidentiality and Anonymity
This week, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is widely promoting Mental Health Awareness and we’re pleased to offer our clients a way to maintain their counselling services while adhering to rules for physical distance. But, as quick and easy as this change may seem on the surface, online counselling is still a new frontier. Our team endeavours to keep the public informed about the following considerations that apply to both the counsellor, and the client, as we embark on this new way of providing counselling services.
On the surface internet-based counselling seems to be an attractive, convenient, flexible and possibly more affordable (i.e. no pay parking to add to your therapy bill) way to continue to do therapy while adhering to the important COVID-19 directives. But there’s much for the public to consider when deciding whether to take the leap from offline to online therapy.
Enhanced Online Counselling Security
The internet is a public domain. Privacy and security are experienced in many layers, and have limitations. Many of these are beyond the control (and the expertise) of counsellors. For this reason, Hollyburn has purchased an enhanced Zoom license with built-in, additional layers of privacy and security that comply with Canadian privacy laws. Our service prohibits recording of any online sessions. Passwords are used for all meetings, and virtual waiting rooms are set up to ensure all participants are identified before granting access to an online meeting. These measures form the basis of an enhanced program designed for health professionals who seek to provide the most secure web-based platform available for client service.
If you’re seeking counselling services at this time, our initial contact with you will include a thorough review of limits to your confidentiality outlining the risks of participating in web-based video therapy. We also offer the option of phone sessions which can be booked at the convenience of the client.
Still have questions? The following resources outline privacy issues and concerns and are helpful to those who are new to these online communications tools:
- Zoombombing & Video Therapy
- Ethical Issues in Online Psychotherapy: A Narrative Review
- Online therapy : client and counsellor experiences
- What You Need to Know About the Latest Zoom Vulnerabilities