Legally, the content of a clinical record belongs to the client. The client has a claim to significant confidentiality.
However, if you are receiving counselling through your Health Authority, your counselling record forms part of your overall medical record, and medical records are now computerised. It may be worth asking whom you want to have access to what you have been working on with your counsellor.
Some EAPs hold the clinical records themselves, rather than leaving them with your counsellor, and some EAPs place restrictions on access to and use of them.
ICBC and WorkSafeBC sometimes take an interest in counselling records.
Private counselling places you in the driving seat. You choose the counsellor you want to work with. The counsellor-client relationship is central to effective therapy, so this is important in itself. But you are not just choosing a 'personality' when you seek a counsellor, you are choosing a way of working—a theoretical orientation—that suits you.
Some EAPs will afford a degree of flexibility in the choice of counsellor. Government funded counselling is unlikely to. ICBC and WorkSafeBC may allow some flexibility.
However, EAPs all tend to prescribe how the counsellors they are paying for should work with their clients. Government funded counselling usually follows what is called the 'medical model' (as in what we call 'Quick-Fix-It Counselling'), and ICBC and WorkSafeBC may not support your chosen way of working with your issues.
The hard truth is that if you want to determine what is best for you, you need to fund it yourself.
Many people have access to Employee Assistance Programs that provide counselling.
For some kinds of issue, counselling is available through local Health Authorities.
Sometimes counselling is available through the Ministry for Children and Family Development.
ICBC and WorkSafeBC pay for counselling.
Many communities have service agencies, usually funded by tax dollars, that offer free counselling.
So why pay for private counselling? Records, driving seat, and time make three good reasons.
When you are self-funding, you get to decide how often you need to see your counsellor, how long the counselling sessions need to be, and how long you stay in therapy for.
With rare and unusual exceptions, free-at-source counselling involves one 'counselling hour' per week and is strictly time-limited. EAP counselling can be extremely time limited—just a handful of counselling-hour sessions. Although some issues can be resolved in a few sessions or less, most cannot, not properly.
Counsellors know this. We work differently when we know that someone has, say, only 5 hours to spend with us. It is irresponsible, even unethical, to be opening up wounds that there won't be time to attend to properly.
Qualified in both Counselling and Experiential Psychotherapy (EFT), we bring prior backgrounds in social work, education, and ethics, plus concurrent experience delivering University based counsellor training.
Ava has undertaken additional study in supervision, addictions, and intimate partner violence.
Clive has authored articles on the practice and theory of counselling and on Experiential Focusing. They present his original contributions to both fields.
In private practice and in institutional settings, we have experience of British Columbia, Yukon, the UK, and Asia.
We have worked with First Nations, in multicultural contexts outside Canada, and counselled in both medical and non-medical environments.
If you want a particular kind of counselling (relational, non-directive, alive to 'process'), and you are not sure where to find it locally, we are only as far away as the telephone.
Clive became involved in distance education in the 1990s and started exploring the challenges of long-distance communication. By now, both Ava and Clive are experienced working over the telephone and using email. For confidential communication, we have our own Counselling Cloud.
We do not use Skype because Skype is monitored and is, therefore, not consistent with our understanding of confidentiality. However, when there isn't real face-to-face interaction, it is the voice which really matters not a small-screen image.
Some people find that there is a spiritual dimension to life. Some people don't. We are comfortable with both perceptions.
We have a lot of experience accompanying clients for whom that dimension is important and needs to be part of their counselling journey. We have a lot of experience accompanying clients for whom it isn't, and that is okay too.
But don't forget. You need the right counsellor for you.
We've tried to give you a sense of who we are, how we work, and what we offer. We are here to help. But we may not be right for you.
Look around. Check out the options.