Information for Sathya Sai College Students: Giving Informed Consent
This document will provide you with an explanation of informed consent in relation to school counselling services. Informed consent means that you are given sufficient information so that you understand and can make appropriate decisions (such as giving consent) for the counselling service. In some circumstances, a secondary student may provide informed consent; otherwise, the counsellor would obtain informed consent from a parent/guardian/carer.
Informed consent involves a private conversation between you and the School Counsellor and covers the following.
- School Counsellor’s role and services they provide
- Confidentiality and its limits
- Nature of intervention
- Information sharing
- Record management
- Length of service and closure
Willingness to give consent
You don’t have to provide consent. The Counsellor will discuss what may happen if you do not give consent so that you can understand how you could be affected.
You also have the right to withdraw your consent at any time in writing. You may think about the matter and ask questions before providing consent and you don’t have to provide consent by a certain time. However, consent must be provided before the counselling support can be provided.
If you sign and date the consent form you give your permission for the School Counsellor to work with you.
Parent/guardian/carer involvement is encouraged and can be important for ongoing change; however, parents/guardians/carers need to be aware of confidentiality and its limits within the counselling process. If you give consent to engage in counselling, then the School Counsellor should reach an agreement with you as to how to involve your parent/guardian/carer.
School counselling role
School Counsellors work to support students to achieve physical, social, emotional, academic, psychological and spiritual wellbeing and health. Counselling is the process that occurs when a student and counsellor set aside time to explore issues or concerns. The School Counsellor will arrange sessions with you throughout the term to provide support and strategies. The frequency of sessions could vary from weekly, fortnightly or as needed. These services are not intended as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment for any mental health disorder.
The School Counsellor cannot diagnose mental health disorders and their counselling support is not intended as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment for any mental health disorder.
A School Counsellor can assist you by providing support and strategies to help at school and/or home or work. This might include support for: parent/child or other important relationships; stress; anxiety; grief and loss; physical, emotional, social, psychological or spiritual wellbeing; important transitions or significant changes.
Our School Counsellor is an art therapist, which means she is trained to use art materials as a way to engage, make meaning and express topics and themes explored in a counselling session. Art therapy is a counselling service that invites participants to engage with art making as a way of experiencing, processing, reflecting and assimilating experiences, trauma, ideas and beliefs. The art image is an important part of the counselling session and as such, is an important aspect of record keeping. This consent form will also include consent to photograph artwork for the purpose of record keeping.
Counselling support is most effective when all parties volunteer to be present for the process. If a student does not volunteer to work with the School Counsellor, the School Counsellor will not offer counselling support to them.
Sometimes short-term counselling support is not the ideal option; in this case, the school counsellor will provide you with a more appropriate referral option.
Confidentiality and its limits
The exceptions that may apply
In accordance with professional responsibilities, the School Counsellor may need to disclose details to other people within the School or external to the School in the following circumstances:
- the School Counsellor has a reasonable belief that there is a risk to your health, safety or wellbeing or that of another person;
- there is a legal requirement to do so including as the result of a court subpoena or mandatory reporting provisions;
- it is necessary for the School Counsellor to obtain legal advice.
No person will have access to your information except to the extent required to deliver the counselling service. Examples of this may mean:
- As you will have appointments during the school day, the school’s duty of care obligations means that your teacher and/or principal might be aware that the counselling is occurring. However, the information you/your parent provide during the counselling process will remain confidential (within the limits above);
- In some instances, sharing of basic necessary information with school staff (eg: Learning support, Classroom Teacher, Wellbeing coordinator, etc.) may be needed to help with a more coordinated approach in working towards better learning outcomes for you. The information is for the purpose of gaining extra support and providing the most appropriate program for you. If you wish to provide information that you do not want shared with relevant school staff, you must inform the Counsellor verbally or in writing.
- A third party may be present during sessions if required (e.g., other school wellbeing staff, school principal, etc.).
- Other school wellbeing staff members may need to access your information, in order to: continue service if school counsellor is absent, support in critical incident situations when additional personnel are assisting, undertake supervision and quality assurance activities or to fulfil requirements of the law.
- To administer our service, including the arrangement or changes of appointments.
- To fulfil our administrative, legal and contractual obligations as an employer.
- Sharing of Information by the Principal or Delegate: In determining the support and adjustments required for the student, the Principal, or their authorised delegate, may decide that it is appropriate to share information that the counsellor provides to them with other staff or the parents/carers of the student. That decision will be made by the Principal, or their authorised delegate, and any sharing will generally be on a need to know basis, and ideally in consultation with the counsellor, the student and/or parents/carers.
When School Counsellors see a new student, a digital file is opened which contains relevant information. As services are provided, case notes, reports, programs and plans will be added to the file. The purpose of collecting this information is to inform and record the Counsellor’s work. The School Counsellor is able to provide you information regarding record access. Records regarding students will be stored securely until the student attains the age of 25 years. Records will then be destroyed or permanently de-identified.
Photography of artwork
As our School Counsellor is an art therapist and works with art making during counselling session, consent is required for the school counsellor to photograph and record art work that is created during the session or brought in that informs the session. Photographs of the artwork are only taken to form part of the students record keeping and are kept confidentially in their digital file. They form a part of the students confidential case notes and are managed as such. Photographs are stored securely in their digital files and are destroyed or permanently de-identified along with their case notes when the student reaches the age of 25 years.
Length of Consent
When you give consent, you are agreeing to engage in counselling services at your current School. The Counsellor will speak with you to make sure you continue to provide your permission at the start of each school year.
If you think you may want to withdraw your consent for counselling services, it is useful to first have a discussion with the School Counsellor.
When counselling services are no longer required, a discussion will be held between you and the School Counsellor and counselling will stop. If at some time in the future, counselling services are required, you can approach your School Counsellor to schedule a suitable time.
If you have any questions or require further discussion, please contact the School Counsellor.