Terms of Service
Welcome to my practice
I’m so glad we’ve connected. You’ve taken a courageous first step by reaching out for counselling, and I look forward to supporting you in meeting life’s challenges with greater self-compassion and insight. Please read this document carefully as it forms an agreement between us for our work together, expanding on the basic terms of service that were noted in the intake form you completed. By continuing therapy with me, it is assumed that you agree with these terms and give your informed consent for our work together. Please get in touch with me at any time if you have any questions or concerns. I look forward to working with you.
- Level 3 Registered Counsellor with the Australian Counselling Association (member number 13393)
- Certified Trauma Recovery Coach with the International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaches (IAOTRC)
- Certified Clinical Partner Specialist-Candidate with the Association of Partners of Sex Addicts Specialists (APSATS)
- Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO) Level 2 Member
- Griefline Accredited Counsellor
- Brainspotting Practitioner
What to expect
Counselling is a form of talk therapy designed to help you compassionately manage issues causing you distress or concern, improve your insight and self-compassion, and learn effective personal and interpersonal coping strategies in a safe, confidential environment. I draw on various evidence-informed approaches depending on what is most helpful for you. I’ve had specific training in Trauma Therapy, Betrayal Trauma, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), Brainspotting, Attachment-Informed Therapy, Existential Grief Therapy, Intention Tapping, Narrative Therapy, Mindfulness, Somatic Self-Compassion, Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) and more. For coaching, I use a model developed by the International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaching, with whom I’m certified.
Although the modality is important, evidence shows that the relationship you build with your therapist or coach is the ultimate healing factor. This is really important to the way I work, so if you’re ever feeling that I’m “missing you” or we’re misattuned somehow, I welcome your feedback. This can be an important part of therapy and coaching.
You will be sharing confidential, sensitive, personal and private information, which may sometimes be distressing or result in periods of increased anxiety or confusion. I encourage you to let me know if you ever feel too uncomfortable. We can pause at any time and take the session at your pace. If you feel like ending suddenly or after a session that might have been challenging or painful, I recommend that you reach out and talk to me, so we can work through it in relationship with each other. Your feelings matter to me and may be linked to the current discomfort or an “old story” – either way, it can be therapeutic to talk it through, rather than finishing without attending to this.
I am deeply committed to your recovery, growth and psychological safety. This is ultimately supported by the level of commitment you make to yourself – both during your sessions and at home. If I cannot help you at any point in your counselling, I’m required to refer you to another professional who may assist you further. This is especially important in the case of conditions that may require a medical or psychiatric diagnosis. (Please note that I do not prepare letters, forms or reports for any insurance, employer, educational, medical, government or legal entity. Nor do I provide recommendations or legal testimony on behalf of clients.)
Frequency of sessions
Weekly sessions support and hold the relationship, providing a safe, secure base to explore your inner and outer world. They keep your process moving and underline the deep commitment you’ve made to yourself. I realise, however, that some people find a weekly appointment difficult for financial or personal reasons, so I will do my best to accommodate fortnightly appointments if necessary. Casual one-at-a-time sessions may be an option for some clients waiting for a regular appointment time slot or after weekly or fortnightly sessions have ended, as sessions taper off.
My intention is to provide you with a private and confidential space. Under most circumstances, I will not release any information you disclose without your consent unless I am obliged to do so by law or by the ethical standards of my professional body. Some of my reporting obligations include (but are not limited to) illegal activity, harm or neglect, domestic violence situations involving children, court subpoenas, cases of known or suspected abuse, or if I believe you have a serious intent to harm yourself or others. In these cases, I am required to make contact with the appropriate external agencies but will generally discuss this with you first.
I receive clinical supervision at least ten times a year and may discuss issues arising in our sessions. Your identifying information is not included, and confidentiality rules also bind my supervisor.
Please don’t record our sessions, take screenshots, or copy my paperwork or the content of emails or messages without my permission. This protects your privacy and my intellectual property. At times, I may request your permission to record our session for the purpose of my professional development and to enable me to go back over the session for further reflection and feedback. You always have the right of refusal.
To maintain confidentiality, I cannot accept social media friend/contact requests from clients during or after our work together. If I become aware that we are in a Facebook group together, I will block your profile to maintain your privacy. You’re welcome to follow my social media pages, but please note that likes, follows, and comments may appear in your news feed. I don’t engage in advice-giving or online therapy on social media. I appreciate your understanding that it is inappropriate for either of us to discuss any details of your sessions on these platforms.
If there is an emergency during a session, I may contact your emergency contact person, emergency services, or a mental health crisis team. Please advise in writing if your emergency contact or residential address details change. If you are not at home for an online appointment, please let me know your location at the beginning of the session, so I can access help on your behalf if necessary. If a crisis occurs during an online session, and we get disconnected, you agree to seek help from someone you trust, emergency services or a relevant crisis line.
Counselling and coaching are an investment in your recovery and growth. If your financial situation changes or you have concerns about the money side of therapy, please let me know, and we can spend time working through this together. Unless otherwise arranged, initial appointments, couple sessions, and longer appointments (80 minutes) are $200 AUD (plus GST for Australian clients). Follow-up individual appointments (50-60 minutes) are $150 AUD (plus GST for Australian clients). You may be eligible for a health fund rebate if you have extras cover with Bupa, Medibank, ahm, Doctors Health Fund, Police Health Fund, Emergency Services Health, Grand United, St Lukes Health, Phoenix Health, GMHBA, WestFund or CUA Health.
I review my fees annually and will notify you in writing at least 30 days before any increase.
An invoice will be emailed to you. Payment is required within 48 hours of the invoice for initial appointments to secure the booking. Follow-up appointments may be paid on the day, before the appointment. Direct bank transfer is preferred for Australian clients and is greatly appreciated, as the merchant fees are currently paid on your behalf (please use your name as the reference):
Account Number 12213171
Card payments are available for international clients (and Australian clients on request). You can opt to save your card details in the Stripe payment processor (in accordance with Stripe’s privacy policies). This makes future payments possible with one click from the invoice link. The data is not stored or accessible by me. By storing the card details in Stripe, you agree that I may process the payment on your behalf if payment is not received.
Cancellations & rescheduling
I have a 24-hour rescheduling/cancellation window, after which the full fee is payable in default, although this may be waived in exceptional circumstances. Where payment is retained, I spend your session time in self-supervision or reading a relevant topic to support our work together. Please let me know if you’d like me to read or research something specific, as it makes for deep, rich work on your return.
If you experience illness or an emergency on the day of your appointment, please contact me as soon as possible so we can negotiate a resolution – I understand that life can be unpredictable. I will show you the same courtesy by informing you as soon as possible if I need to reschedule your appointment. (Please let me know if you have a chronic health condition or a particular family situation that is likely to interfere with your capacity to attend therapy regularly). I may be able to reschedule you at another time in the same week – however, my practice is currently full, so this may not always be possible. Instead of cancelling, you might consider an alternative appointment type such as video, phone, live chat or asynchronous email counselling.
I am unable to hold your regular appointment time if there are repeated cancellations, as I have clients waiting to begin working with me. In the case of frequently cancelled sessions, we will review whether now is the right time for you to continue therapy. We will explore whether there are any underlying concerns and how you feel about our work together. If you are experiencing uncertainty about continuing therapy or have concerns about our work together, I encourage you to talk with me, as I am open to feedback.
Appointment confirmations and reminders are emailed from email@example.com. Emails about issues such as holidays and fee changes may be sent from my client email list on Mailchimp. Please advise if you wish to be removed from the Mailchimp list, so I can ensure you don’t miss important information. Contact outside of sessions is usually for administrative purposes only. If you need to get in touch, the best way is via email or text message, and I will respond as soon as possible. My contact details are karen @ karenbieman dot com and +61 411 889 175. In case of an emergency, it’s ok to call, but my phone is often switched off or on silent, as I may be with a client.
Record keeping and security
Your privacy matters to me! Although no data transmission can be guaranteed 100% secure, I take reasonable steps to ensure your personal information is stored securely. This includes keeping identifiable information in the Splose booking system separate from your session notes, which are stored in password-protected files at Sync, which has groundbreaking privacy protection features, enterprise-grade infrastructure and certification with the most widely accepted security and privacy regulations worldwide. Any paper records are kept in a locked filing cabinet. I have a legal obligation to keep counselling records for at least seven (7) years; in some cases, I may be required to retain records for longer. I will not be liable for any breach of confidentiality or data protection arising from the action of third parties or a lack of security in your devices.
Email “sessions” are one exchange of up to about 1000 words each. I will endeavour to reply within 48-72 hours. Please ensure you have password protection on your devices to protect your email content, and consider deleting emails after reading them. I use an encrypted, secure email platform called Proton and encourage you to use a free Proton Mail account. If not, I will secure my counselling emails with a password.
Synchronous live chat may be provided upon request for existing clients only. This occurs at your usual appointment time using the encrypted Signal platform, which you will need to download to your phone or computer.
You may choose to end our work together at any time and for any reason. If you feel like ending all of a sudden or after a challenging or painful session, I encourage you to reach out, so we can work through it together. Your feelings matter to me, and I will listen to your concerns. If you want to finish, I recommend you allow at least one session’s notice, as this gives us an opportunity to review and conclude our time together. Endings can be difficult, and doing this relationally is an opportunity for you to work through things differently from your past. If there are any sudden or unforeseen endings by myself or breaks in our working relationship, I will do my best to make arrangements for care to be taken of your immediate needs.
If you need to make a complaint
Feedback is always welcome – If you’re unhappy or dissatisfied with your sessions, I encourage you to talk to me so I can respond to your concerns. I will take your feedback seriously, with care and respect. I understand how difficult it can be to raise concerns, as I’ve sometimes felt like that, but encourage you to use this as an opportunity to build your confidence and assertiveness in relationship with others. Feedback guides me in adapting my approach where possible or suitable. If you require help beyond my scope of practice or we’re just not the right fit, I will endeavour to help you find the right person for you – even if it isn’t me!
Code of Ethics – I adhere to the Code of Ethics for both the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) and the International Association of Trauma Recovery Coaches (IAOTRC) and am committed to my own psychological well-being through self-care, continued professional development and clinical supervision. If you are dissatisfied after first talking with me and feel that I’ve breached my code of ethics, you can contact the ACA or lodge a complaint to IAOTRC at Grievance@iaotrc.com.
Negotiation – If either of us concerns, we agree to make a genuine effort to seek a win/win solution and resolve any dispute in good faith by negotiation and discussion. We both agree to not engage in any public discussion about the issues in dispute, to behave politely towards each other, and to avoid any conduct or communication which might reasonably be expected to interfere with any other person’s business or personal interests. We agree to be reasonably cooperative at all stages of the dispute-resolution process.
Mediation – If we cannot resolve a dispute by negotiation and discussion within 28 days, we agree to proceed to mediation with the assistance of an independent accredited mediator, seeking online dispute resolution or mediation by telephone if we are not located within 100km of each other. The mediator is to be appointed by agreement between us or, failing agreement within 28 days of the negotiation period ending, the person initiating the dispute will seek the appointment of a dispute resolution professional by the President of the Law Society of Victoria, Australia, or a similar neutral authority. We agree to share the costs of mediation equally between us. We agree that neither of us will commence legal action until, in the opinion of the independent mediator, the potential for negotiation and mediation has been exhausted.
Jurisdiction – This Agreement is subject to the governing laws of Victoria, Australia. Regardless of where you live in the world, you irrevocably agree that if the dispute resolution processes fail, the courts of Victoria, Australia, and the Commonwealth of Australia, will have exclusive jurisdiction.
By proceeding with therapy or coaching, you indicate that you agree with these Terms of Service. Please contact me before proceeding if you have any questions or concerns.
Terms updated: July 13, 2023