At ACAWS, we adhere to strict standards of practice and care. One of these standards is ensuring clients understand the service, how it can assist, and what our policies are. We require before a session takes place, a client has read these specifics and signed the agreement to give recognition of their understanding of our services. This is a practice most counselling services use, as it provides certainties and structure to the counselling process, increasing success for clients.

     The agreement needs to be returned signed before the first session takes place, and can be done two different ways. The choices are written below.

     If you are enquiring for service and do not have an email or regular Internet access, such as for elderly family members, please email and ask for our vocal signature alternative.

 

OPTION 1:

Download the agrement form in RTF/Word format and complete the form, returning it to the email listed inside the document.

The file can be found here.

 

OPTION 2: 

If you do not have sound knowledge of using Word processing programs such as Wordpad (enclosed in Windows software) or Microsoft Word, you can use an email-exclusive option. Address an email to email then paste the text between the two star lines below. At the bottom sign and date where asked, then send the email. You must sign and date it at the bottom to show you have read, acknowledge and accept the conditions of our free services.

 

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 COUNSELLING AGREEMENT FORM 

     ACAWS provides quality, no-charge counselling to people facing grief or health concerns for themselves or family members – human or animal. We ask clients fill out the following agreement before their first counselling session to ensure they get the best care possible, as well as being informed on their rights and identifying their expectations of the treatment. If you have any questions about the following information, please contact us.
Please note: - Booked sessions will not proceed until this form has been signed and returned to email

⦁ Confidentiality
ACAWS takes great measures to ensure client information is guarded and kept safe. We use locked files that are not left open to others to view. We also use a client code /dual system, meaning your personal identifiable information is kept in a different area from the notes taken during your session. However, due to guidelines of the Australian Counselling Association and the Australian government, there are times when confidentiality must be broken which are:
1. The client/you show intention or planning towards suicide or life-threatening self-harm.
2. The client/you show real threat to another person, such as threatening to kill someone and then buying a weapon or planning when/how to do so.
3. You disclose a child under the age of 18 is being abused or neglected.
4. Files are subpoenaed to comply with legal proceedings.
5. A counsellor rmay be required to speak to a supervisor to ensure the client/you are given the best treatments and considerations during service.
6. A suspected psychiatric condition is causing serious deficits in daily functioning and additional services must be recruited.

⦁ Record keeping and requests
In compliance with laws, not only are files kept within a dual record system to protect client information, but we also have additional guidelines to safe-guard breeches of confidentiality. This includes:
1. Counsellors will not leave the client’s/your information open on their PCs for others to accidentally view.
2. It is recommended that counsellors keep files locked via passwords or on external devices, such as removable hard drives.
3. If a client/you request your client records, they will be sent via the email provided upon client code registration in a locked file. The password will not be given until your identity is verified with on-file information.
4. Files will not be distributed to anyone other than the client/you, without written permission, unless for legal reasons where a subpoena has been placed.
5. The client’s/your information will not be sold, passed on, or collected by any other business or service that could use your details for marketing research, spam emails, or financial benefit.
6. Counsellors cannot confirm a client’s use of the ACAWS service, provide information, or confirm appointments without the client code being quoted first or without written permission from the client/you to provide such information to a third party.

⦁ Fair use policy
ACAWS offers no-charge counselling to all, however reserves the right to refuse counselling in some instances. These include:
1. If the client/you call many times a day or make unfair time demands on counsellors.
2. The client/you make appointments and repeatedly fail to keep them.
3. The client/you are threatening or abusive to staff.
4. The client/you require treatment for areas outside of grief and injury.

⦁ Referrals
In some cases, clients/you might be referred to another service provider or additional services. While we will try and find you low-cost services, we cannot guarantee the fees, as these referrals will be to professionals who may not work for ACAWS. Reasons for referral include:
1. Substance use, such as alcohol or drugs.
2. The client’s/your situation requires a more specialised treatment provider, such as a family therapist or specialist counselling.
3. Your concerns fit outside our scope.
4. The counsellor deems you would benefit from a more progressive treatment, or a more specialty service provider.
5. The client/you require quick intervention in relation to self-harm or self-destructive patterns, or psychiatric conditions that are causing disruption to daily functioning.

⦁ Other counselling referral reasons.
Another reason a client might be re-assigned to a different counsellor is due to conflict of interest, where a situation can affect the quality of counselling. In this case, counsellors will aim to refer the client to another counsellor currently volunteering with ACAWS, or find providers in the client’s local area who offer similar services. Examples of conflict of interest include:
1. The client/you are related to the counsellor selected, or know them socially.
2. The client/you act on sexual interest or want of outside friendship towards the counsellor.
3. The client/you and the counsellor have differing views on a subject that affects the quality of counselling.
4. The counsellor’s interventions are not suitable for what the client/you requests.
5. Another counsellor might have more information, resources or experience on the client’s specific disability or situation.

⦁ Free call-back services.
ACAWS offers free call-back services where clients are unable to afford the charges, particularly those interstate or in rural areas. We service clients by:
1. Skype to skype calls with a client. These are subject to availability. Please ensure you know how to work Skype before you book this type of appointment.
2. We can call back clients in rural and interstate areas with no charge to you. Clients must offer a landline or VOIP number to take advantage of this offer.
3. International clients (excluding the US and Canada for legal reasons) can take advantage of Skype counselling, on the provision they correctly calculate their time in AEST timezone hours. We do not work outside of our stipulated work hours, 9:30am – 9:30pm AEST.

⦁ What we can’t guarantee
While counselling is beneficial and can assist with most issues people have, there are some things that cannot be guaranteed. ACAWS cannot guarantee:
1. Counselling will be easy and solve all your problems rapidly.
2. Counsellors will teach you to reprogram others in your life.
3. You will be perfect/well or unrealistically different when you finish counselling.
4. Counsellors will provide you solutions to fix everything with perfection, or offer the perfect advice.
5. Care at all hours of the day or night, on-demand, when you need a crutch.

⦁ What we aim to provide
While the above statements are unrealistic and unachievable by any practice, ACAWS counsellors work to offer the following:
1. Unbiased, non-judgmental care for all clients, despite race, class, situation, or health condition. Counsellors will not treat clients in a degrading or disrespectful way, instead focusing on what is best for the client.
2. Assistance in achieving what clients want in life, working towards empowerment, self-improvement and self-understanding.
3. Professional care by qualified counsellors who are monitored by supervision and ethical standards associations, such as the Australian Counselling Association.
4. Confidential strategies such as those listed above to ensure your information is kept private unless legal/moral reasons require otherwise.
5. Free call-back services if the technologies are able to be supplied (See above: Free Call-back services).
6. Counselling that is in compliance to legal standards and the Fair Use policy we adhere to.
7. Counsellors will treat clients as they request, meaning any therapeutic interventions or suggestions a client is uncomfortable with are halted or not used when a client states so or there are legal requirements in conflict. The use of language will also be corrected based on client request. (ie, titles, how disabilities are termed, avoiding subjects asked to be left out)
8. Counsellors will ask clients what their goals or ideas for counselling are, and work at including these in their treatment. This will include discussion on skills, resources, and improvements clients can draw from.
9. Counsellors are to represent counselling as it is, without offering any guarantees or false information about treatment.
10. Counsellors will call emergency services in the event of a life-threatening situation, or emergency that happens during a session with a client. We aim for the health and safety of all our clients.

⦁ Complaints policy
In the event of a client being unhappy with our services, we will aim to correct the situation. If you feel you have been unfairly treated, please email us and describe the situation. We will work to remedy the situation by:
1. Referring the client/you to another counsellor (if requested).
2. Speaking on your behalf to the counsellor and ask for a written apology where applicable.
3. Ask the client’s/your feedback on what they/you expected the counsellor to do in respect to improving service and building efficacy.

⦁ Hidden charges
ACAWS is a no-charge counselling service and advertises authentically. We offer the following services free of charge:
1. Booked sessions of counselling for the client/you.
2. Follow-up calls that might include researching referrals or additional information.
3. Follow-up calls once counselling is completed to request feedback or updates to work through efficacy of treatment.
4. Advocating on behalf of clients who require or request it.
5. Answering phone calls or email enquiries.
6. Sending out client records if requested (and with relevant permission being on file) with client code.
7. Keeping records safe and secure in accordance with industry standards or better.
We do not charge for any of the above services. Staff are fully-qualified volunteers who offer their time for the betterment of their clients. Cancelled or missed appointments do not incur charges either, but will affect the availability of the service if it becomes habitual.

⦁ Quality counsellors
ACAWS cares about their clients and makes every effort to ensure their counsellors have the following before becoming part of our treatment team:
1. Membership to the Australian Counselling Association.
2. Regular supervision with a registered supervisor.
3. Professional development ongoing.
4. Carries professional insurance.
5. Has a private, quiet area to work from that guarantees nobody else can hear the conversation.
6. A counselling or psychology education that is Diploma level or higher.
7. Has passed a role-play examination for feedback and verification of quality.
8. Has undertaken a police check for working with vulnerable clients.

This agreement is subject to change and any amendments will be sent in writing to current clients for their acceptance.

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By signing, you express that you understand and agree to the above statements of service and comply with our policies.
Name: _________________________________ Date: ________________________

Signature: ______________________________________________

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Before you get a dog, you can't quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can't imagine living any other way. -- Caroline Knapp, author.

Disability is a matter of perception. If you can do just one thing well, you're needed by someone. -- Martina Navratilova

Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom. -- Rumi

Those that won't be counseled can't be helped. -- Benjamin Franklin

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated. -- Mahatma Gandhi
 





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