Psychological and counselling services
As part of providing a psychological or counselling service to you, SQPsych needs to collect and record personal information from you that is relevant to your situation, such as your name, contact information, medical history and other relevant information. Collecting this personal information is a necessary part of psychological/counselling assessment and treatment.
Purpose of collecting and holding information
Consequence of not providing personal information
Access to client information
At any stage you are entitled to access your personal information kept on file, subject to exceptions in the relevant legislation. The psychologist/counsellor may discuss with you different possible forms of access.
Disclosure of personal information
All personal information gathered by the psychologist/counsellor during the provision of the psychological/counselling service will remain confidential except when: 1. it is subpoenaed by a court, or disclosure is otherwise required or authorised by law; or 2. failure to disclose the information would in the reasonable belief of SQPsych place you or another person at serious risk to life, health or safety; or 3. your prior approval has been obtained to a) provide a written report to another professional or agency. e.g., a GP or a lawyer; or b) discuss the material with another person, eg. a parent, employer, health provider or third party funder; or c) disclose the information in another way; or d) disclose to another professional or agency (e.g. your GP) and disclosure of your personal information to that third party is for a purpose which is directly related to the primary purpose for which your personal information was collected. Your personal information is not disclosed to overseas recipients, unless you consent or such disclosure is otherwise required by law. Your personal information will not be used, sold, rented or disclosed for any other purpose. If unauthorised access, disclosure or loss of a client’s personal information occurs, SQPsych will activate its data breach plan and use all reasonable endeavours to minimise any risk of consequential serious harm.
Client files are held in either a secure filing cabinet or a secure cloud based information management system (i.e. Adobe, Microsoft, Halaxy) which are accessible only to authorised employees. The information on each file includes personal information such as name, address, contact phone numbers, medical history, and other personal information collected as part of providing the psychological service.
How clients’ personal information is collected
A client’s personal information is collected in a number of ways during psychological consultation with SQPsych, including when the client provides information directly to SQPsych using hardcopy forms, correspondence via email, when the client interacts directly with SQPsych or staff (such as the receptionist), and when other health practitioners provide personal information to SQPsych, via referrals, correspondence and medical reports.
Purpose of holding personal information
A client’s personal information is gathered and used for the purpose of providing psychological/counselling services, which includes assessing, diagnosing and treating a client’s presenting issue. The personal information is retained in order to document what happens during sessions, and enables the psychologist/counsellor to provide a relevant and informed psychological/counselling service.
Requests for access and correction to client information
At any stage clients may request to see and correct the personal information about them kept on file. The psychologist may discuss the contents with them and/or give them a copy, subject to the exceptions in the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth). If satisfied that personal information is inaccurate, out of date or incomplete, reasonable steps will be taken in the circumstances to ensure that this information is corrected. All requests by clients for access to or correction of personal information held about them should be lodged with Mr. Shannon Quinn – Registered Psychologist. These requests will be responded to in writing within 30 days and an appointment will be made if necessary for clarification purposes.
If clients have a concern about the management of their personal information, they may inform Mr. Shannon Quinn – Registered Psychologist. Upon request they can obtain a copy of the Australian Privacy Principles, which describe their rights and how their personal information should be handled. Ultimately, if clients wish to lodge a formal complaint about the use of, disclosure of, or access to, their personal information, they may do so with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner by phone on 1300 363 992, online at http://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy/making-a-privacy-complaint or by post to: Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, GPO Box 5218, Sydney, NSW 2001.
Special Considerations for Children Under the Age of 16 years
SQPsych offers a free introductory call where the practitioner will introduce themselves. SQPsych prefers that the intro call is scheduled individually with the parent/carer to allow sufficient time and privacy to gather (at a high level) reason for seeking help, background information, and to establish client practitioner fit.
Usually, the majority of the initial appointment will be spent with the parent/carer only. Children may attend if they are able to self-manage in the waiting room, or are accompanied by another parent/carer. This would allow for a brief meeting between the child and practitioner at the initial session which can be helpful in building the therapeutic relationship.
Ethical and legal requirements
Psychologists and counsellors are required to meet the ethical standards of their profession. Clients under the age of 14 are generally unable to provide (legal) consent. SQPsych requests that the parent/carer remain engaged in the treatment and assessment process and provide ongoing consent on the child’s behalf. There are special considerations which need to be addressed where parents are separated. Please advise the practitioner should you be made aware that a child’s parents are separated or in the process of separation.
Last reviewed 31 July 2023