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Confidentiality and Limits to Confidentiality in University of Galway Student Counselling Service   

Any personal data which you provide to Student Counselling & Wellbeing will be treated with the highest standards of security and confidentiality, in accordance both with Irish and European Data Protection legislation and with codes of ethics and practice for psychologists (PSI) and psychotherapists (IACP, IAHIP). It is necessary for us to collect and process your personal data and data related to your wellbeing and mental health for us to provide you with counselling, consultation and group interventions. We store your information securely and retain counselling records for a period of seven years following termination of counselling in keeping with professional codes of practice.  

Apart from necessary liaison with the Student Health Unit and the Disability Service, the only other situation in which the Counselling Service may share information is if your counsellor is concerned about a serious risk to life either to you or to someone else and in instances of child safeguarding as detailed below. Sharing of information outside our service is done in full collaboration with the student concerned unless in exceptional circumstances.  

We maintain electronic case notes on all clients. These are kept on a confidential, secure system. The notes are there to help the counsellor reflect on your situation and offer the best possible help. Your details are also kept anonymously on a database for statistical purposes only.    

Disclosures of Current or Historical Child Abuse in Counselling  

What happens when an adult client tells a counsellor that they have been sexually or persistently physically abused or experienced willful neglect or emotional abuse in childhood? 
As well as considering all aspects of the adult client’s safety, wellbeing and recovery, the therapist will have to take into account the child welfare and protection concerns that may arise in relation to the alleged perpetrator (Children First Act 2015).  There are circumstances in which this may impinge on client confidentiality.  

Under the Children First Act 2015 a therapist is required to report any knowledge, belief or reasonable suspicion that a child has been harmed, is being harmed, or is at risk of being harmed. If a client discloses the identity of an alleged perpetrator who is alive, no longer living in Ireland, or deceased and the therapist is aware that the alleged perpetrator has posed or continues to pose a risk to the safety of children or young people the therapist will report their concerns to Tusla using the standard reporting form. The client will subsequently be contacted by Tusla's child protection social worker who will be tasked with investigating the reported concernThe therapist will offer advice and support to the client throughout the process.   

In some circumstances the therapist will need to consult with a Tusla Social worker in the first instance to ascertain if an allegation meets the threshold for reporting and the potential next steps. 


In certain circumstances, you may be contacted by a screening counsellor via email/phone once you have completed your registration forms.   

Student Counselling is a short-term service. The standard offering is one set of counselling sessions per semester, except in exceptional circumstances.   

You will receive a reminder of your appointments by email after each appointment and a text reminder 48 hours before your appointment  

If you do not respond to an offer of an appointment within 24 hours, we will assume that you no longer want to avail of counselling at this time. 

If you do not attend an appointment without contacting the service to cancel 24 hours before the appointment, we will assume that you will not be returning for counselling and your time slot will be offered to another student on our waiting list   

The Student Counselling Service will liaise with the Student Health Unit and the Disability Service, where necessary, in the interest of the student.      

Counselling is a confidential service but there are some limits to confidentiality where there is risk to life or children protection concerns. Please read information on confidentiality above  

If you are unhappy with any aspect of the service you receive in Student Counselling please let us know by discussing it with your counsellor or by asking to speak with or emailing James McCormack, Head of Counselling james.mccormack@nuigalway.ie    

In very exceptional circumstances, the Service may need to contact your next of kin in order ensure the safety of yourself or others.