Online Counselling for Children and Young People

I work with young people aged 16 and older who are living in the United Kingdom. For people under 18, I will only work with you if your parent or legal guardian has given me signed consent. If you are under 18 and you are seeking support but don’t want your parent or guardian to know about it then I recommend contacting either Kooth or The Mix - they are well-established organisations which offer online counselling to young people in the UK for free and don't ask permission from your parents/guardians.

To set up counselling for someone under 18, the young person's parent or legal guardian can contact me or book online to arrange an initial discussion of up to 30 minutes. We can speak by telephone or online video, whichever you prefer. In this conversation we will consider together what is prompting you to seek counselling for your child at the moment, their general situation, what you would like them to gain from the sessions and whether my style of counselling is likely to be helpful for them. The conversation is free of charge.

If we agree that counselling sessions with me are likely to be helpful, then I will email you an assessment form to complete with your child and return to me. I will also email you a Counselling Agreement and a Privacy Statement to read and sign electronically. The terms of these include those found on my Terms of Use and Privacy pages.

If you would like to meet with me to discuss any further questions you might have about the counselling process then we can arrange a time/day for a one-off assessment appointment using either telephone, online audio or online video. This assessment appointment lasts for up to 60 minutes and is charged for (please see here for up to date information on fees). It is up to you and your child as to whether they attend this appointment with us or whether you would prefer to meet with me without them present.

 

Once the paperwork is completed, I will arrange with you a date for an assessment meeting between me and your child, where I will meet with them by themselves. I will discuss with your child what counselling is, how they can use it and what they would like to use their sessions for. I will agree some boundaries with them including confidentiality, time (start and finish of sessions), safety, respect for each other, your child’s hopes for the counselling and their rights to any records kept about them.

 

All counselling sessions are confidential. This is so that people feel safe to express their worries fully and trust that what they choose to talk about will not be discussed elsewhere without their permission. Parents and guardians are not told about what their child talks about in counselling without their child’s consent. Some parents and guardians find this unusual but it is necessary for counselling to be effective. There are limits to confidentiality: if a child were to claim that they were at risk of serious harm, or that someone else is at risk of serious harm, then appropriate steps would be taken to keep them and others safe. You can view my confidentiality policy and I will discuss confidentiality with you when we speak as well.

 

How do online counselling sessions work?

Video, Audio, Telephone and Instant Messaging sessions

We agree in advance a time and day for each of your child’s counselling sessions. These can be scheduled to suit you and your child, and can either be at the same time/day on a regular basis, or can be scheduled as and when needed.

Each counselling session lasts up to 50 minutes. Sessions start and finish at the pre-agreed time; however, your child can choose to end their session early if they do not want to talk for the full time.

If your child is meeting Amy by telephone, they can call Amy when they are ready any time from the agreed start of their session time.

For Online Video and Audio sessions we currently use software called Zoom to connect. This software platform encrypts all data sent in transmission and does not require your child to become a ‘contact’ with us, which helps to protect their confidentiality. You will need to download Zoom software to the device which your child is going to use; you will be prompted to set up an account but you can choose not to do this and your child can still attend the session. Amy will send your child a Zoom meeting link prior to each counselling session by encrypted email.

For Instant Messaging sessions we currently use software called Signal. This platform is fully encrypted. It does require your child to set up an account and become a ‘contact’ with us on Signal. To do this your child will need to give a name and telephone number but no other information.

 

Email sessions

We agree a regular day when we will have a “session” which means this is the day when Amy will send your child a therapeutic email. Amy will send your child a brief acknowledgement of each email they send, and one therapeutic email of up to 650 words on the agreed day.

You child will need to send their email(s) to Amy at least 48 hours prior to the agreed session day. They can email Amy once or multiple times between sessions. Please bear in mind that if they send a lot of text in either one or multiple messages, this will affect how much time Amy has to write a therapeutic reply. As a general rule, 3,000 words is the limit they can submit in total each week to expect a substantive reply.

Amy will email your child using Frama RMail software which provides end to end encryption. They can reply to Amy using this software and their replies will be fully encrypted, without them having to download software, register or pay for an account.


Does my child have to have particular symptoms in order to have counselling with you?

No, your child does not have to display any particular behaviour nor meet a threshold in order to qualify for counselling with Paper Plane Counselling Ltd.

 

Do you work with children without the knowledge of their parents or guardians?

No, we only offer counselling to children and young people under the age of 18 with their parent or guardian’s full knowledge and signed consent. If you are a child or young person and you are seeking support but don’t want your parent or guardian to know about it then we recommend either Kooth or The Mix which are well-established organisations which offer this.

Counselling always takes some time to set up. If you need more urgent support with your mental health right now then you can find some useful contact details of organisations you can speak to by telephone, text chat or email here.

How many sessions will my child need?

How long children will need to come for greatly varies depending on how they engage with the process and what they hope to take from it. At the initial assessment we will discuss roughly how many sessions your child might need. Throughout the work we hold regular reviews to discuss how the counselling is going and whether it needs to be extended or curtailed. Amy is committed to working in the best interests of children so will not seek to end sessions before the child is ready nor prolong them beyond the point of being useful.

It is important to commit to attending the sessions that have been booked, as frequently missed sessions negatively affect how much your child is likely to get out of the counselling process.

At the Assessment appointment we will discuss what would best suit you and your child taking into consideration age and ability to concentrate, what you and your child hope to get from counselling, other commitments you may have to juggle and financial cost.

 

How much do counselling sessions cost?

Up to date prices for all services offered can be found here. The fee is normally due at the end of each counselling session and can be paid by online BACS transfer.

We are registered with some private health insurance companies. If you are thinking of claiming the cost of your child’s sessions through private health insurance please ask us to see if we are registered with your provider.

 

What records do you keep?

Brief notes of all sessions are held securely on electronic and paper-based systems, and your child’s data is available for them to view on request. You can view our full Information and Governance Policy and Procedure on our Privacy page (the link is at the bottom of the webpage). A copy of our Accessible Privacy Statement will be given to you in advance of your initial Assessment appointment. Paper Plane Counselling Ltd is registered with the Information Commissioner's Office and our systems comply with the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

 

Are my child’s sessions confidential?

All counselling sessions are confidential. This is so that children feel safe to express their worries fully and trust that what they choose to talk about will not be discussed elsewhere without their permission. Parents and carers are not routinely told the detail of what happens during their child’s counselling sessions without their child’s consent. Some parents find this unusual but it is necessary for counselling to be effective. There are limits to confidentiality: if children were to claim that they are at risk of serious harm, or that someone else is at risk of serious harm, then appropriate steps would be taken to keep them and others safe. You can view our confidentiality policy and we will discuss confidentiality in more depth at the initial assessment.

 

We cannot 100% guarantee that your child’s online communication with us will be private. (This is impossible for any individual or organisation to do.) However, we do as much as we can to protect your child’s data both on and offline and we strongly suggest that you do the same. We carefully select the third party software which we use to communicate and conduct counselling sessions, and we reserve the right to change the platforms we use if their privacy settings change making them unsuitable for delivering therapeutic work.

We will offer you and your child advice on how to protect your child’s confidentiality when engaging in online counselling. We recommend using strong passwords for all accounts you and your child use to connect with us, and changing them regularly. We recommend only sending us information about yourself by encrypted means (not doing so is the electronic equivalent of sending us a postcard written in pencil). All our emails to you are sent in encrypted format and we use Frama RMail software which gives you the option to reply to us in encrypted format without any charge or need to register for an account yourself.

 

Do you tell the NHS or the school that my child is having counselling sessions?

No, neither the NHS nor your child’s school are routinely told that your child is having counselling sessions. Any sessions your child has with Paper Plane Counselling Ltd will not be recorded on your child’s NHS record nor on your child’s school records.

If you wish to inform your child’s GP or your child’s school that your child is having counselling sessions then you can do so. Information will not be shared about your child’s counselling sessions without your consent except in the instance of safeguarding concerns.

Generally speaking, it is not recommended that a person sees two (or more) counsellors at the same time. This applies to children as well as to adults. If your child has been referred or is already attending counselling through the NHS or another provider and you still wish them to have additional counselling with Paper Plane Counselling Ltd, please make this clear when you contact Amy or at the initial assessment appointment. If your child’s GP or a member of school staff wishes to refer your child for counselling then it would be helpful to inform them that your child already attends sessions with Paper Plane Counselling Ltd. You can then discuss with them what further support, if any, your child might benefit from.

 

Are you available in an emergency?

It is sometimes possible to set up an emergency counselling session at short notice but it will depend on Amy's availability. If your child is in crisis and needs support with their mental health right now then you can find details of some organisations which you can contact here