Supporting Children, Youth, and Families in Greater Vancouver since 1990
online counselling security

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: 

Maureen Manning is a Registered Clinical Counsellor (RCC) who began exploring online options for her therapy clients after using video counselling to complete practical components of a clinical training in 2018.  Once a self-described technophobe, Maureen continues to explore how technology may be used to improve access and remove barriers to mental health services including location, stigma, and mobility challenges for clients with physical disabilities or chronic health conditions. She coordinates the Family Counselling Program for Hollyburn and is the Senior Clinical Manager of Family Programs for Hollyburn Family Services. You may reach her at email hidden; JavaScript is required