The importance of keeping your clients’ data protected as a counsellor
As a counsellor, it’s your job to work with clients to help improve their emotional and psychological well-being. And with 1 in 4 people in the UK experiencing a mental health problem each year, it’s no wonder counsellors are in high demand.
However, due to the nature of counselling, it’s normal to hold extremely sensitive data about your clients. That’s why it’s important to do everything in your power to prevent data loss and leaks. If a client’s data is accidentally compromised, it can have extremely serious implications.
If you’re worried about security, here are some things you can do to protect the data you hold.
1. Comply with GDPR
The Data Protection Act 2018 – also known as the UK GDPR – governs how personal information can be used by organisations, businesses or the government.
The purpose of GDPR is to ensure that personal information is kept safe, used fairly and handled in a way that ensures it’s safe from unlawful or unauthorised processing.
As the information counsellors hold about clients is to do with their health, it is subject to even higher standards of protection.
The most important thing you can do is comply with GDPR.
2. Eliminate data once it’s no longer needed
If you want to protect your client’s data from hackers, the best thing you can do is destroy files that are no longer needed. For example, if you have stopped working with a client or no longer need their personal details on file, the best thing to do is delete the data. That way, there’s no chance it can be leaked.
3. Update your antivirus software
Over time, your trusty computer and systems become more vulnerable to attacks. If you’ve been putting off the latest software update, it’s time to act.
The next time you get a security alert, don’t ignore it. After all, you never know when hackers are going to strike.
4. Encrypt your data and ensure only those who need access to it can use it
Not everyone needs access to your clients’ data. So, it’s important to limit access to the select few that need it to carry out their job effectively.
You should also encrypt data to add a layer of protection. This means that even if the data gets into the wrong hands, they won’t be able to access it.
5. Know where the data is stored and make regular backups
To ensure your data doesn’t mysteriously ‘go missing’, it’s important to know where and how it is stored and make regular backups. One of the best ways to back up your files is by using cloud-based services.
Even if you’re as careful as can be, sometimes things go awry when it comes to data protection. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check your counsellor’s insurance to find out whether you’re covered in the event of a data leak.
You can then focus on what’s important: helping your clients.