Communications policy long version
Communication is at the heart of the contact between people. Safety is very important in psychotherapy. You cannot do good therapeutic work if it lacks a basic level of safety and trust. Apart from other factors, that requires a sense of privacy and confidentiality, so that things can be said in the certainty that they will never reach other people.
Security and confidentiality are real issues in electronic communications. Only rare engineers and experts can fully understand what is going on technically. Strange and bad things happen on the Internet. Apart from the therapeutic reasons to be concerned about security, there are recently tightened data protection laws, which make me responsible for an appropriate minimum level of security - even if it is higher than perhaps you yourself are willing to accept.
Agreement on communications
To make this all work well, I want, with every person I work with, to have a clear agreement about what methods we use for communication - subject to update and change.
Let us review the main classes of communication one by one.
- Physical mail; telephone; SMS messaging
I prefer not to use these at all. They are deeply insecure. We may need to exchange phone numbers as they are needed to identify other contact options.
- Audio links to replace telephone
Most video links can also function with the video switched off and only an audio (voice) link. This is much safer than telephone. If you use 3G or 4G instead of Wi-Fi, as long as you don't use video, it will not consume unduly much data. My preferred options for audio are wire or Signal.
- Video links and video-conferencing
Top of my list are wire and Signal. If you really want, we could use zoom.us (video only; not messaging). FaceTime I can accept as a fall-back. It would help to make this a combined decision with the previous one for audio.
I ask you to register for one of two fully encrypted systems, ProtonMail ( protonmail.com ) or tutanota ( tutanota.com ). None of the normal systems can be made as secure as these are, when we both use it. Our email addresses and the subject of the email are still not encrypted, so you need to take that into account. But the body of the email, and any attachments, are fully encrypted, with keys that the email provider does not have, so that they do not have any access to the emails.
If you indicate your preferences in the following list, one for each, then they will be the agreed methods from now on. Between brackets are methods that I can live with, but consider less than optimal. I would like at least to have one agreed method in place for messaging, and one for audio.
(BBM for Blackberry)
Audio and video
( zoom.us )
Have you got FaceTime installed, to use as a fall-back during video or audio contact if another method fails or has technical issues?
wire and Signal are available as apps for iPhone and android; and have desktop versions for Windows and MacOS.
If you have any problem with making these changes, or installing some of these apps / software, do discuss it with me, so that we can jointly look at it. I can help with installation, or initial teething problems, if need be.