The following is the Privacy Policy of Willow Tree Counselling. It exists to inform you of your rights around the collection, use and disclosure of your personal information, under British Columbia’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA).

This information applies to anyone who has accessed this website or is a current or past client of Willow Tree Counselling. The relevance of the information found herein will vary, depending on whether or not you are receiving Willow Tree Counselling’s services.

The following information and the information contained on willowtreecounselling.ca is intended for adults 19 years of age and up. Willow Tree Counselling does not provide counselling to children under the age of 19.

Personal Information – Use and Collection

According to PIPA, this refers to “information that can identify an individual” and “information about an identifiable individual.” Willow Tree Counselling will collect and use such information only as needed and as is relevant to the provision of counselling or consultation services as requested by you. Examples of the information collected and why, is described below.

Your personal information may be used by Willow Tree Counselling to provide counselling services or information to you, to respond to phone calls, emails or provide resources to augment your therapy experience, to arrange and conduct 15-minute consultations, to manage the waiting and cancellation lists and to contact you when your name comes up to start counselling.

Interest Form

Willow Tree Counselling has an encrypted contact form for those who would like to arrange a 15-minute consultation with Megan Sutherland to determine whether Willow Tree Counselling is suitable for you. This form asks for name and email address so that Willow Tree Counselling can contact you to arrange a time to meet in person or by phone. Megan returns requests for consultations via email; if you want to make arrangements for a consultation by phone, please contact her directly at 604-521-3404.

If it has been mutually agreed during the consultation that Willow Tree Counselling is right for you, Megan will offer you a place on her waiting list, and request your availability should you wish to be apprised of last-minute openings that arise from time to time. Your name, email address and availability (should you want to be apprised of last minute openings) are collected and recorded electronically in a secure (Canadian-based) online practice management system so that the wait list can be efficiently managed and you, contacted, when your name or an opening arises. Clients may remove themselves from the Willow Tree Counselling waiting list at any time, by contacting Willow Tree Counselling directly.  Clients who wish to re-refer themselves after removing themselves from the waiting list are welcome to do so, but return to the bottom of the waiting list.

Intake

At the time of the initial telephone intake, Willow Tree Counselling will collect:

  • Your name, address, phone number, email address and date of birth

This is to ensure that you are the person who is seeking counselling, that you are a resident of BC where the social work registration of Megan Sutherland (owner) is valid, that you are contactable outside of the session if needed or during an emergency, or for phone counselling (if requested). Your email address is requested should you choose to receive email communication, as detailed, and if consented to, in the Willow Tree Counselling Email Consent Policy. This policy is provided at the time of intake or you may request an additional copy by contacting Willow Tree Counselling at 604-521-3404 or megan@willowtreecounselling.ca.

Counselling

  • Any information you choose to share about your personal situation, past or present, for the purpose of providing counselling and collaborating with you on a treatment plan.

Newsletter

Clients who wish to optionally receive the Willow Tree Counselling email newsletter, The Listening Ear, would enter their email address to allow the newsletter to be delivered to their inbox. This can be done on Willow Tree Counselling’s home page or on the electronic intake form that new clients receive.

Website

willowtreecounselling.ca exists for interested parties to find out more information about Willow Tree Counselling’s services, Megan Sutherland’s professional profile and contact information and those who are interested in reading Willow Tree Counselling’s articles related to counselling. The website also contains the Willow Tree Cancellation Policy, an interest form to request a free 15-minute consultation, community resources, links to book titles, payment/PayPal information and links to the Willow Tree Counselling social media accounts.

willowtreecounselling.ca does not actively collect personal and identifiable information about you. Google analytics collects statistics on popular webpages, search terms, browsers, operating systems and devices used. This information is given as aggregate data, and is not personally identifiable to Willow Tree Counselling. Megan’s Sutherland’s Internet browser may passively, and not at the request of Megan, collect IP addresses and locations.

Some clients may choose to visit the Fees page of willowtreecounselling.ca and pay for their sessions via PayPal, which will ask you to input your credit card information, email address and name. Willow Tree Counselling does not have access to your credit card information.

Email – Special Considerations

Email is not considered a secure and confidential way of communicating. For the protection of your privacy, please do not email information you would not be comfortable discussing in a public space. Megan Sutherland is happy to confidentially discuss your concerns either in session, or, if they can be addressed in the course of a 15-minute free phone or in-person consultation.

Waiting Room and Counselling Office

The Willow Tree Counselling office, while private, is located in a suite with other independent (primarily counselling) offices. The suite has a shared waiting room. When entering and leaving the office, you may or may not see another individual in the waiting room, who may or may not be a client of Willow Tree Counselling. If this is a concern for you, please inform Megan Sutherland and she will make alternative arrangements with you for entering or exiting her office. Megan Sutherland would never knowingly schedule clients back to back whom she thought knew, or could know one another.

While nothing can ever be guaranteed soundproof, Willow Tree Counselling uses professionally-installed sound masking technology, located in the ceiling of the Willow Tree Counselling office and adjoining vestibule to distort and mask conversation that happens therein. There are also two doors that separate the counselling office and waiting room, to further reduce sound transmission. Additional insulation has also been installed in parts of the office’s ceiling and walls.

Disclosure of Personal Information

Confidentiality

Your identity, attendance and all personal information communicated by you in counselling is strictly confidential, with the following exceptions:

  • You have expressed the desire to harm yourself or someone else
  • In situations of suspected or known child abuse/neglect or suspected elder abuse or neglect, reporting is required by law; failure to do so could result in harm to the child or adult in question, in addition to professional penalties such as fines, jail time and the removal of Megan’s social work license
  • Should the counselling record be subpoenaed by the court
  • If Megan is requesting clinical consultation or supervision; no identifying information about you is released
  • Insurance companies periodically contact Megan to request confirmation of sessions that have been claimed via employment/extended health benefits. This is to stop insurance fraud by ensuring that submitted sessions have occurred. If you do not want me to verify sessions with your insurer, please let me know but note that that this may result in you being denied reimbursement for sessions that you have claimed
  • Should Megan be required to retain the services of a collection agency or seek legal counsel
  • Should Megan need to retain the services of a bookkeeper who handles copies of receipts, this person would sign a confidentiality agreement

For further information about confidentiality, please see Megan’s article on the topic.

Disclosure to Third Parties

Willow Tree Counselling is not authorized to disclose your personal information to any third party without your express written and signed consent. Willow Tree Counselling cannot respond to requests from concerned family members or friends about clients’ attendance, disclosure in session or the treatment plan; please talk to your loved one directly. This also applies to family members or friends who are paying for the client’s sessions.

There are restrictions, albeit rare, to confidentiality which involved disclosure to third parties; these are detailed in the above section, “Confidentiality.”

Protection of Your Personal Information

Willow Tree Counselling treats all aspects of your personal information with the greatest care and takes active steps to protect your information. As per the requirements of her professional college, Megan Sutherland securely stores client/clinical information using her online practice management system which has secure servers in Eastern Canada. This system has a private server bank located in a secured SOC2, Type2-certified data centre, and all data is backed up regularly on secondary servers in Western Canada. Data is encrypted using 256 bit encryption when sent between Megan’s devices and the system’s servers. Megan Sutherland also has paper files from when her files were off-line, which she keeps in locked filing cabinets when not in use and archived for a period of 7 years after service has ended.

Any email exchanges are also part of the personal record.

Willow Tree Counselling’s Technology Policy extensively details the use of technology in managing your personal information and is given at the time of intake or by contacting Megan Sutherland at 604-521-3404 or megan@willowtreecounselling.ca.

Accessing and Correcting Your Personal Information

Clients have a right to view or receive a copy of their file, or portions of the file, if this information is still available. Willow Tree Counselling has 30 days to respond to your request, unless Megan Sutherland is out of the office or has recently returned after an extended time away. As per PIPA, any information either given by third parties, or about third parties that is contained in the file, is required to be blacked out, to preserve the third party’s privacy. Requests that take longer than 15 minutes to organize, are billed in 30-minute intervals according to Willow Tree Counselling’s current fees for paperwork.

If you have undertaken couples counselling, and one or both parties wants copies of the file, the written and signed consent of both parties is required in order to release the information.

On rare occasions, if Megan Sutherland believes that the release of your file would result in harm to either you or another party, Megan Sutherland has the right under PIPA to refuse the release a copy of the file.

If, in the course of your review, you have discovered factual information that you have deemed to be inaccurate, Megan Sutherland will put a correction on the electronic file, or with paper files, with a single strikethrough of the objected information and the correction beside it, signed and dated. Megan cannot make corrections to her clinical assessment/impressions unless this assessment has changed in the light of the corrections.

Disposing of Your Personal Information

Any paper files are subject to shredding after a 7-year period. Should any technology require disposal (for example, an old and inefficient computer) that contains personal information, such technology is only disposed of once the hard drive is destroyed.

Privacy Policy Changes

The information above is subject to periodic revision and changes. The current version will always be posted at this page on willowtreecounselling.ca.  If you have any questions about this policy, please contact Megan Sutherland directly through one of the means noted above.

©️ Copyright, Willow Tree Counselling, 2017. No portion of the above may be reproduced without express permission of Willow Tree Counselling.