How we communicate
How we communicate is very important for anything to do with psychotherapy. We need to have a safe space, and I place a very high value on confidentiality. These days there is more and more communication using mobile phones, computers and the Internet - in addition to the telephone, which has been used for a much longer time.
Influenced by British law, the Data Protection Act (2018) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (2016) , I have decided on a tighter, more secure system to communicate with my clients, that is as safe as it can possibly get.
This means some changes, including asking you to install a secure "app" on your phone. It means I will ask you to do some things to ensure appropriate cyber security, and that I hope that you will follow the choices I have made, based on my own research and on advice from experts.
I want to agree with you, as part of the framework or contract for psychotherapy between us, the following:
We have exchanged telephone numbers, and I want us to keep them for reference, but I ask you not to use the telephone any more, not to leave telephone voice mail messages, and not to use SMS messages. These are all relatively unsafe.
For messaging, short or long, confidential or not, I make a request of you to install on your mobile phone an app called "wire". On iPhone you can get this from the AppStore. On android via GooglePlay.
To replace phone calls, you can use wire to make audio calls. Once we are connected, there is a small telephone in the top right-hand corner of the screen with our messages. If you click that, it calls me. You need WiFi or 3G/4G.
If we need or want to talk using video, or even have video therapy sessions, few or many, again wire can do that. There is also a version for your laptop (Windows or Mac) that you could use in that case. There are a few other options, but this is my top choice that is very secure.
Finally, email is quite difficult to make safe. Normal email connections are not secure, at least not from the people providing them (e.g. Google, Microsoft, Apple). I can understand that you would want to avoid this altogether, but email is more substantive and enduring than messaging apps are. So for instance for our initial exchange of and agreement on a contract, that would best need to be in secure email form, rather than via a messaging app.
I ask you to install, and use between us, one specific email system, called ProtonMail ( www.protonmail.com ). You can get a version of this on your laptop, computer, tablet, or on your mobile phone, or on some or all of them. This is fully encrypted and password-protected. There are a few other options, if you'd prefer, but ProtonMail is very sound and probably the easiest one. You can get ProtonMail in the basic version for free.
This is the short, simple version of my request to you to make changes. If you want to go deeper into it, or prefer to compare some alternative choices, please consult the extended version of this note.