Privacy issues with counsellor’s websites & businesses
With the potentially sensitive nature of the counsellor’s business and client confidentiality, there can be privacy issues above and beyond what non-counselling businesses have to be aware of.
Many businesses ask their clients or customers for reviews on Google, Facebook or other platforms such as Trustpilot. Many people are happy to leave a review but this may not be the case with a counselling business as leaving a review can show the user’s name and picture and disclose that the person has had counselling. While the stigma around counselling is lessening over time, some people may still be uncomfortable with the public being able to see that they used a counsellor or therapist.
Client data and GDPR
From May 25th 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into affect, extending the Data Protection Act and increasing consequences for not protecting client data. As well as clear privacy policies and cookie notices on the counsellor’s website, there are further reaching aspects of data protection around client contact details and therapy session notes. Clients can also request that their data be exported or deleted.
Online booking systems and payments
Something we noticed when building a booking system for a therapist recently, was that people did not book online using the extremely easy booking system but would rather ring the therapist to book a session. While the client and myself thought it would a useful feature, we think that privacy issues around having their details saved to a system and using PayPal to pay for counselling led to the system not being used.
Many potential or existing clients may use the contact form on your website to make contact or stay in touch. Email isn’t 100% secure, and some counselling businesses may have admin staff or webmasters that can potentially read these emails. Adding a note near your website contact form to remind people that messages sent via the form might not be confidential could be a good idea.
While web design for counsellors and technology can be used to make your counselling business more efficient, there are some privacy issues unique to counselling or therapy services that can make marketing and operating the business more challenging.