Professional Services Agreement

Online counseling is a form of counseling that happens over electronic means. At Care Port Counseling (CPC), it involves counseling through VSee using both audio and video. Online counseling is only available with adults (18 years old and over).

Online Counseling will never completely replace face to face counseling, but there are situations where it can be helpful, and possibly even preferable. Here are some advantages and limitations of online counseling:

Advantages

  • Makes counseling possible for some who are located in places where counseling services are not accessible
  • There can be a potential increase in sense of safety by not going to an office. This can also be true for some who prefer to express themselves more fully in a more anonymous environment
  • There may be less stigma, and greater confidentiality, by not appearing at a counseling office.

Limitations

  • The client may feel distant from the counselor, or may not experience comfort as tangibly as in person.
  • Technology has its occasional breakdowns.
  • Some people say relationships tend to be more superficial online, while others say people tend to be more open and honest in the somewhat more anonymous environment. This will depend on each person’s personality.

All therapeutic communications, records, and contacts with other involved professionals will be held in strict confidence. Information may be released, in accordance with state law, only when

    • You, the counselee, sign a written release of information indicating you give your informed consent to such release.
    • You, the counselee, express serious intent to harm self or someone else.
    • There is reasonable suspicion or evidence of abuse against a minor child, elder person (sixty-five years or older), or dependent adult;
    • A subpoena or other court order is received directing the disclosure of information.

Though there are no laws concerning the counselee keeping counseling information confidential, CPC requests that there be no recording of audio or visual content of sessions. CPC also requests that any session content not be posted or forwarded for others to see or hear.

From time to time, it may be necessary to consult with another mental health professional to insure the best possible care. In such circumstances, no names or other identifying information will be used, and only professional counselors under the same requirements of confidentiality will be consulted.

Privacy and confidentiality have been important issues in online counseling. Careportcounseling.org has implemented industry standard securities to keep communications through the website as safe and confidential as possible as well as HIPAA compliant (USA regulations concerning the privacy of health information) using a secure server. Counselees need to be aware that communication through any other email system has the possibility that confidential information could be intercepted during transit. The counselor will arrange with the counselee at the first possible interaction an alternate method of contact in case of technology failure.

Security may be an issue in your location. It is recommended that you become aware of any online security risks in your location and consider them fully before submitting a request for counseling. VSee uses technology that prevents hacking from one user end to the other (along the internet route). Communication is not stored anywhere and even VSee cannot listen in to conversations.

Online counseling may be insufficient to provide ongoing service to clients with severe pathology or who are in crisis or threat to harm situations. If the counselor anticipates that a potential counselee will or might require in-person care at some point, the counselor will inform the counselee of this. It is possible that during the counseling process the counselee’s condition changes and the counselor becomes concerned that the counselee may be a threat to self or others. In this situation, the counselor will need to inform an emergency contact (requested on the application form) living nearby the counselee. The counselee will be notified if such action is to be taken. Emergency contact information will need to be given to the counselor before the counseling process can begin. (Emergency contacts in some locations may include police, a friend, a physician, or even an administrator, depending on the emergency services available in the country of the counselee.)

If an appointment needs to be canceled, please contact Care Port Counseling at least 24 hours in advance to cancel. Failure to cancel 24 hours in advance will result in being charged for the session.

By checking the box on the application page you are agreeing to the terms of this agreement.

D. Lynn Paulsen
MA, LPC, LMHC