Valerie Smith Counselling & Psychotherapy


Purpose of this notice

This Privacy Notice outlines the way in which I will use personal information provided to me.  Personal information includes any information that identifies you personally, such as your name, address, email address or telephone number.

I recognise the importance of your privacy and personal information and have therefore outlined below how I use, disclose and protect this information.

Under Data Protection regulations, such as the Data Protection Act (1988) and the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’), I am classed as the Data Controller, because I decide how your information is processed and for what purpose.

Contact details for me are provided at the end of this notice.

What information I collect

The information I may collect about you is shown below:

  • Counselling Requests. When you contact me to request counselling or make initial enquiries, I will ask for basic information, such as: your name, address and telephone number; availability information; and some basic therapeutic background information. I ask this so that I can process you initial request.
  • Initial Appointment. At your first appointment, I will ask about: your current personal, social and medical circumstances; your background and family history; and any issues that are currently affecting you. I ask for this information, so that I can determine whether I am able to help you as well as providing context for any therapeutic work.
  • Counselling Sessions. Over time, I will ask questions about: issues that are affecting you now; your past life events and experiences. I ask for this so that it can inform and improve our therapeutic work.
  • Therapeutic Questionnaires. I might also invite you to complete a standard therapeutic questionnaire (such as CORE 34). This is a tool that is used to measure the progress we are making.
  • Invoices. These may show your name, postal address, telephone number or email address (but we will happily omit or anonymise these if you would prefer).


How I use your information

I use the information you give me:

  • to offer appointments
  • to provide the counselling and therapy services you request
  • to notify you about changes to your appointments or changes to the service I am offering you
  • to maintain my accounts and financial records
  • to fulfill contractual, regulatory or other legal obligations
  • to improve my service to ensure that it is provided to you in the most effective manner


Disclosure of information

I will not share any of your personal information with other perople or organisations, except in the following circumstances:

  • I may share your information with professional carers or others whom you have requested or agreed that I should contact
  • I may share your information with the relevant authorities if I have reason to believe that there is an immediate risk of serious harm to yourself or others
  • I may share your information where I am required to do so by law or by other regulations to which I am subject
  • I may share your information with a ‘professional executor’ who would contact you if I am incapacitated or unable to contact you in person. This is a trusted counsellor who would contact you in this situation to discuss your needs and what course of action you would like to take. The professional executor will continue to process your data in accordance with this privacy notice.

Other than in the situations described above, your information will never be shared with any third party without your consent. When I seek your consent:

  • I will explain clearly why I am doing so and what will happen with your information
  • You will be able to revoke your consent at any time


Storage and security of personal information

I will always strive to ensure that personal information is accurate and held in a secure and confidential environment.

All paper based copies of your information are stored in a locked filing cabinet.

Electronic copies of your information are stored on my own on-premises server which is accessed by accounts using strong passwords for authentication.

All counselling session notes are fully anonymised and stored separately from personally identifiable information such as your name, postal address or email address.

On rare occasions, I might ask if we can record a counselling session. This is a useful tool to allow me to improve my therapeutic practice. Recordings will be entirely voluntary and will only be taken if I have received your explicit written consent. I will explain for what purpose the recording will be used and you will be able to withdraw your consent and request the disposal of the recording at any time. Recordings of counselling sessions will be stored in an encrypted format and be protected by a strong password and industry-standard encryption. They will always be deleted within a maximum of 60 days of recording.

I will not keep copies of your information longer than necessary. This means that I will delete your information 24 months after you cease to be my client or have regular contact with me. I will only keep it for longer if I am obliged to do so by law or am required to keep it to respond to any questions or complaints or to show that I have treated you fairly.

I may also keep it for statistical purposes but, if I do so, I will only use it for that purpose and the data will be fully anonymised. When the information is no longer needed it will be securely destroyed or permanently rendered unusable.

Getting a copy of your personal information

You can request details of the personal information which I hold about you by contacting me using the contact details given at the end of this notice.

Inaccuracies and objections

If you believe that any information that I hold about you is incorrect or incomplete or if you do not wish your personal information to be held or used by me, please let me know.  Any information found to be incorrect will be corrected as quickly as possible.

You have the right to object to my use of your personal information, or to ask me to remove or stop using your personal information if there is no need for me to keep it.  There may be legal or other reasons why I need to keep or use your information, but please tell me if you think that I should not be using it.

If I am processing your information on the basis of your explicit consent, you can withdraw your consent at any time.  Please contact me if you want to do so.

Contact me

Please contact me if you have any questions about this privacy notice or any personal data I hold about you.

In writing at:

Valerie Smith Counselling
Cockenzie Business Centre
Edinburgh Road
East Lothian
EH32 0XL

By telephone: 03333 403 221

By email:

How to complain

You have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office about anything relating to the processing of your personal information by me. You can contact the ICO via its website at or at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF.

Copyright © 2020 Valerie Smith Counselling