Records Containing Personal Information - Counselling Records

Program Counsellors Notes Tipsheet - Case 1: Counselling Records

It is important to keep records of meetings with students to:

  • make appropriate referrals
  • record advice and/or information given to be clear what support was offered
  • provide background for others if students see different counsellors

Employees who create or process records containing personal information have the following responsibilities under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA):

  • To manage and process personal information properly
  • To protect the individual’s right to privacy
  • To be aware that the individual has the right to access all personal information held about him/her

Be Proactive

  • Create records with access in mind
    • Write notes as if the students are going to look at it
    • Better: review notes with students.
  • Remove any information that does not pertain to the student to ensure the accuracy of the files

Be Objective

  • Create records that are objective and include only what is relevant
    • Avoid any unnecessary or subjective references; or rewrite your notes to remove these
  • Limit notes to themes rather than events
    • Counsellor notes should focus on processes rather than narratives
      • E.g.: theme of independence
      • Not: Student only went to four classes
  • Use quotation marks.
    • To keep the record as factual as possible, considering using quotes
      • E.g.: Student described herself as “weird”
      • Not: Student appears weird.

Be Organized

  • Don’t retain transitory records
    • Transitory records include notes, working papers and preliminary drafts – paper or electronic – created for a temporary purpose.
    • Do not retain these materials after task or operational need ends
    • Once the final version of a report or other record is prepared, earlier drafts and working materials should usually be destroyed.