Document Version 1.0.0 – Effective From 2023/04/04
1.1 Purpose of Policy
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd needs to gather and use certain information about individuals.
These can include clients, suppliers, employees and other people the organisation has a relationship with or may need to contact. This policy describes how this personal data will be collected, handled and stored to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation.
1.2 Policy Statement
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd is committed to a policy of protecting the rights and privacy of clients and others in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation.
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd commits to:
- comply with both the law and good practice
- respect individuals’ rights
- be open and honest with individuals whose data is held
- provide training and support to staff who handle personal data, so that they can act confidently and consistently
- Register our details with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)
1.3 Personal Data
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd may hold data for the following purposes:
- provision of therapeutic support
- marketing and newsletters
- case histories
Categories of data include:
- name, date of birth (where necessary). This is basic information that is stored for lawful and safeguarding purposes
- address, email address, phone number, GP details. These are recorded as a means of contacting the individual for session scheduling and/or emergency purposes where there is an evident risk of harm to yourself or others.
- special categories may be necessary which may include race, ethnic origin, health information. UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd may hold special category data for the following purposes:
- provision of therapeutic support
- session Notes. Brief anonymous notes of key themes are kept after each session. The purpose of recording this is for counsellor recollection and to monitor the therapeutic work and also needed to be retained for lawful purposes.
Any personal data that has been deemed inaccurate by the client, will be rectified and completed if incomplete.
Clients have the right to erasure and to opt out of data collection. If you wish to do so, please make this request in writing, however some data can not be erased and will need to be retained for lawful purposes and in line with the insurance policies held by UniqueMinds counsellors.
Clients have the right to object to any personal data being collected and this must be made known prior to any Therapy commencing. Please note, if this is the case any therapeutic work maybe terminated as we are required to keep appropriate records in line with insurance and Ethical bodies as well as legal and safeguarding matters.
1.4 Data Protection Principles
There are six data protection principles that are core to the General Data Protection Regulation. UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will make every possible effort to comply with these principles at all times in our information-handling practices. The principles are:
- Lawful, fair and transparent – data collection must be fair, for a legal purpose and we must be open and transparent as to how the data will be used.
- Limited for its purpose – data can only be collected for a specific purpose.
- Data minimisation – any data collected must be necessary and not excessive for its purpose.
- Accurate – the data we hold must be accurate and kept up to date.
- Retention – we cannot store data longer than necessary.
- Integrity and confidentiality – the data we hold must be kept safe and secure.
1.5 Key risks
The main risks are in two key areas:
- information about individuals getting into the wrong hands, through poor security or inappropriate disclosure of information
- individuals being harmed through data being inaccurate or insufficient
Alison Bean is the data controller (member of the ICO) for all personal data held by us and is responsible for:
- analysing and documenting the type of personal data we hold
- checking procedures to ensure they cover all the rights of the individual
- identifying the lawful basis for processing data
- ensuring consent procedures are lawful
- implementing and reviewing procedures to detect, report and investigate personal data breaches
- storing data in safe and secure ways
- assessing the risk that could be posed to individual rights and freedoms should data be compromised
3 Data Recording, Security and Storage
3.1 Data accuracy and relevance
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will ensure that any personal data we process is accurate, adequate, relevant and not excessive, given the purpose for which it was obtained. We will not process personal data obtained for one purpose for any unconnected purpose unless the individual concerned has agreed to this or would otherwise reasonably expect this.
3.2 Data security
A clients information is seen as their property and so is kept confidential. UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will keep personal data secure against loss or misuse. Where other organisations process personal data as a service on our behalf, we will establish what, if any, additional specific data security arrangements need to be implemented in contracts with those third-party organisations. All information collected and shared will not be shared with anyone else. UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will not share any personal information and will not use it for any purposes other than those related to therapeutic services.
3.3 Storing data securely
- In cases when data is stored on printed paper, it will be kept in a secure place where unauthorised personnel cannot access it
- Printed data will be shredded when it is no longer needed
- Client contact details will be stored on a phone using initials only
- Data stored on a computer will be protected by strong passwords that are changed regularly
- Cloud services used to store personal data will be assessed for compliance with GDPR principles
- All possible technical measures will be put in place to keep data secure
3.4 Data retention and disposal
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will retain personal data for no longer than is legally necessary. Once therapy with a client has ended, address and contact details will be kept for a maximum of 3 months after which all paper copies will be shredded. Session notes and client codes will be kept for a further 5 years in accordance with legal obligations.
In the event of the death or terminal injury resulting in any UniqueMinds counsellor being unable to carry out their client work, another UniqueMinds counsellor or supervisor who all adhere to the same confidentiality requirements will have access to the counsellor’s clinical records in order to inform clients and end therapy and destroy data as required.
4 Accountability and Transparency
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will ensure accountability and transparency in all our use of personal data. We will keep written up-to-date records of all the data processing activities that we do and ensure that they comply with each of the GDPR principles. We will regularly review our data processing activities and implement measures to ensure privacy by design including data minimisation, pseudonymisation, transparency and continuously improving security and enhanced privacy procedures.
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will ensure that consents are specific, informed and plain English such that individuals clearly understand why their information will be collected, who it will be shared with, and the possible consequences of them agreeing or refusing the proposed use of the data. Consents will be clear to provide choice as to which data will be collected and for what purpose. We will seek clear consent wherever possible.
We will maintain an audit trail of consent by documenting details of consent received including who consented, when, how, what, if and when they withdraw consent.
We will regularly review consents and seek to refresh them regularly or if anything changes.
6 Direct Marketing
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will comply with both data protection law and Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations 2003 (PECR) when sending electronic marketing messages. PECR restricts the circumstances in which we can market people and other organisations by phone, text, email or other electronic means. We will seek explicit consent for direct marketing. We will provide a simple way to opt out of marketing messages and be able to respond to any complaints.
7 Data Subject Access Requests
7.1 What is a data subject access request?
Under the General Data Protection Regulations, an individual has the right to receive confirmation that their data is being processed and have access to their personal data and supplementary information, which means the information which should be provided in a privacy notice.
7.2 How to deal with data subject access requests
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd will provide an individual with a copy of the information requested, free of charge. This will occur within one month of receipt. If complying with the request is complex or numerous, the deadline can be extended by two months, but the individual will be informed within one month. We can refuse to respond to certain requests, and can, in circumstances of the request being manifestly unfounded or excessive, charge a fee. If the request is for a large quantity of data, we can request the individual specify the information they are requesting. Once a subject access request has been made, we will not change or amend any of the data that has been requested. Doing so is a criminal offence.
A data subject access request must be made in writing and a disclosure consent form will be signed.
7.3 Data portability requests
We will provide the data requested in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format. This would normally be a PDF file, although other formats are acceptable. We must provide this data either to the individual who has requested it, or to the data controller they have requested it be sent to within one month. The individual has the right to obtain and reuse their personal data for their own purposes across different services.
8 Transferring data internationally
There are restrictions on international transfers of personal data. We will not transfer personal data abroad without express consent.
9 Third Parties
9.1 Using third party controllers and processors
As a data controller and/or data processor, we will have written contracts in place with any third-party data controllers (and/or) data processors that we use. The contract will contain specific clauses which set out our and their liabilities, obligations and responsibilities.
As a data controller, we will only appoint processors who can provide sufficient guarantees under GDPR and that the rights of data subjects will be respected and protected.
As a data processor, we will only act on the documented instructions of a controller. We acknowledge our responsibilities as a data processor under GDPR and we will protect and respect the rights of data subjects.
Our contracts will comply with the standards set out by the ICO and, where possible, follow standard contractual clauses. Our contracts with data controllers (and/or) data processors will set out the subject matter and duration of the processing, the nature and stated purpose of the processing activities, the types of personal data and categories of data subject, and the obligations and rights of the controller.
10 Reporting Breaches
Any breach of this policy or of data protection laws will be reported as soon as practically possible. This means as soon as we become aware of a breach.
UniqueMinds Counselling Ltd has a legal obligation to report any data breaches to UK Supervisory Authority which is the Information Commissioners Officer within 72 hours.