How Confidential Are Your Counselling Sessions?

If we get on a call session how will we know there will be a guaranteed 100% confidentially to our identity and respect towards our privacy?

As I state on my Counselling Session page, it is not possible in this modern age to guarantee 100% confidentiality. In theory, any phone call could be recorded and any computer/email/phone could be hacked into. Controlling these factors is beyond the realm of any single human’s abilities.

That said, I believe that my method offers the best confidentiality you’re going to find for this kind of counselling. By trying to use calling apps that currently have the best reputation for confidentiality, I offer you the best option that is available. Because I offer to talk to you without visual contact (which makes my job harder), you know that your face is not seen, therefore you are not possible for me to identify. The only location information I need from you is your time zone so that I know which times to offer you. I typically get this information by asking what your country/state is (the state only matters if your country has multiple time zones). But time zones are massive. You could give me any location within the same time zone, or you could even tell me the official name of your time zone and therefore keep your location unknown. When I ask you for your country/state, I do the work of verifying that your area is not currently using extra measures (such as Daylight Savings) that might cause our time zones to be further apart than they normally are. If you don’t tell me your country/state, you will have to make this check yourself as different countries (and their individual regions) have different practices. Calculating time zones correctly is vital if I’m going to call you at the correct time and on the right day, as some time zone differences will cause us to be an entire day apart in either direction.

As far as names go, you can pick a false name for me to refer to you by. For psychological reasons, it’s important that you personally like the name you choose, but I will neither know nor care if the name you provide is your actual name or not.

Now if you are really worried, you could use a different phone than your normal one, set up your call app (such as Signal) on that phone under a false name, set up an email account under a false name, and then I wouldn’t even know your “real” phone number. It’s a bit more work, but certainly doable.

Of course the greatest risk to your confidentiality comes from my personal motivations. I’m either personally interested in “outing” people, or I’m not. Regarding this concern, I can only point you to my sites and books. The kind of behaviour you’re concerned about requires motivations that simply aren’t going to sustain the immeasurable amount of time and energy that I spend writing, counselling, and thinking about the many different struggles and concerns that humans feel tormented by. I have been doing this work for nearly a decade. It’s just not possible to maintain this level of output, interest, or focus if I was just looking to trip people up. While there are some people in the world who feel a genuine need to try to destroy the lives of total strangers, my goal is to do just the opposite. When I have clients come to me in a suicidal state of mind, and I see them shift out of that mindset and gain a new sense of purpose and hope for their lives, that is my idea of success.

When you work in a field like this, in which the focus is often on the darkest side of human nature, there is a very high personal cost involved. As anyone who works in similar fields can tell you, you can’t expose yourself to the kinds of real life horror stories that I hear without long-term consequences. There is no possible gain that I could get from outing people that would begin to compensate for the toll this kind of work takes on me, so if my goal was exposure, I would choose a very different method of operation–one which would protect me from the kind of risks that come with doing severe trauma counselling.

Now all of that said, to benefit from counselling, you must have some degree of trust in your counsellor. To help you, I have to gain an accurate understanding of the kinds of stresses your mind and soul are currently grappling with. That requires talking about the gruesome details. While there are several things I can do to help make talking about these things less stressful on your end, if sharing the information in any manner feels extremely threatening to you, you’re simply not ready for counselling. But if you really want to talk to someone and you’re just feeling really nervous about the whole counselling thing, I would encourage you to talk to me because I do believe I am exceptionally good at helping people in your position relax and feel more comfortable. It would be good for you to have at least one positive conversation with a counsellor so you could experience how beneficial counselling can be. That kind of experience can help you find the courage to find someone who you can work with in the long-term.

Most of my clients have never talked to any counsellor before, and a few have had negative experiences, so people are often extra nervous and tense at first, but they usually feel a lot better within a matter of minutes. It’s impossible to describe what a relief it is to realise you are talking to someone who actually “gets it”, and when it comes to the kinds of issues that make people as nervous as you are, I really do get it. You can’t fake that level of understanding, and it is extremely encouraging to the mind and soul to feel like they are being validated instead of criticised.

This post was written in response to Lens.