Customer Service Counselling with Us

Joanna North Associates Ltd – Adoption Support Agency

Updated June 2020

Adoption Tracing Counselling Support

Professional Standards Authority Accredited Member 023263

Customer Care at Joanna North Associates

Welcome to our service I am looking forward to working with you.  We provide short term focussed counselling work for people who have been going through an adoption tracing process.  This might mean that you are seeking a birth relative or that you have been contacted by our tracing agency because you are a birth relative.  We are aware that this can be a demanding experience and we are here to help you with short term work focussed on this specific process in order to help you.   If as a result of this work, you feel you need longer term counselling relating to further issues we will help you to find a counsellor in your area. 

People experience lots of emotions at this time, ranging from surprise and upset to extreme happiness and excitement.  None of these emotions are unusual to us in our work, and research suggests that if you are going through a stressful period then talking to someone in confidence can help you to feel calmer and more able to manage. Alternatively, you may feel disorientated and feel that your identity has been shaken up and you are not the person you thought you were.  You may also feel that you do not wish to have any contact with the person seeking a connection.  If this is the case, please be re-assured that we are not here to help you change your mind but that we are only here to support you if you wish to talk through any aspect of your experience.        Whatever your experience we hope you will feel confident to e mail us if you need help or even just need to ask questions, however small.  Please let us know if you have any vulnerabilities such as disability, mental health conditions or life instability so that we can think holistically about your needs.        

Your Rights

This letter informs you of your rights as a service user so that you know what you can expect from us.  You should experience a safe, confidential and reliable service that is respectful and conforms to an ethical standard.   However, if you have any queries the quickest way to contact us is through e mail . Or .  We have a policy to return e-mails within 24 hours except at weekends and holiday periods.

What Qualifies me to head up our counselling service

I have a Masters Degree and a Doctoral degree in the practice of Psychotherapy. I am registered and Accredited at Senior level with the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Chartered with the British Psychological Society and I am an Ofsted Registered Adoption Support Agency which in 2018 again has been rated as Outstanding.

 I have formerly been an Associate Professor at Richmond University where I taught models of counselling and psychotherapy to psychology students and I am currently Chair of the British Psychological Society Psychotherapy Section.        You are welcome to a copy of my curriculum vitae – and I can e-mail this to you.  At our first meeting we will consider whether I am the best person to help you.  If I am not able to help you I will certainly try to find a specialist or expert in the necessary field.  BACP is governed by the Professional Standards Authority and is set up to protect the public and to provide a register of therapists who agree to a strict code of ethical conduct with regard to clients. Ofsted are the regulator in relation to work with adoption, fostering and children who are looked after by Social Care as well as adults seeking support.      The aim of my work is always to practice in an ethical and respectful manner and be mindful of equality and diversity related practice.  I have a duty of care to you and I take this very seriously.  Please give me feedback as soon as you identify a problem with our service as we will want to put it right as soon as possible.

Our Counsellors

We chose counsellors to work with us based on both their competence and ability to quickly understand others and support them.  Counsellors working with our service are supervised and consult with Jo North who is qualified with the British Psychological Society as a Supervisor.

The Limits of my Expertise

In relation to Adoption Counselling we are offering counselling consultancy and support.  We are not able to diagnose mental health conditions, but if we think you need further help, we will advise you to seek this from your G.P.

How long will we work for?

The counselling we offer is short-term focussed work relating to your experience of tracing or being traced.    This may be up to two or three sessions but often people need less.  It depends on what you feel you need.  Some people need a little longer and we are happy to provide counselling and support as long as you need this.    If other issues arise as a result of this life event and you need longer term work to discuss these, we will help you to find a counsellor who undertakes longer term counselling.  See below on fees.    

Fees

This service is part of our Customer Care package and there is no charge to you for this short-term work.  However, the counselling we are offering is only short term and relates to your current experience of adoption and life issues that arise as a result of the tracing process.  If you feel you need to cover other life issues, we will support you to find a relevant professional at a reasonable price or we can refer you for counselling through your G.P. who can refer you into the NHS at no cost.      

Contacting me

The quickest way to contact us is through e-mail.  We will then set up an appointment for us to speak.   You can also e mail me with questions that I may be able to respond to more quickly.     

Sickness (If I am Ill) and Holiday Breaks and Continuity of Service

If through illness (I am not ill very often) but if I am ill and have to miss an appointment I will give you as much notice as possible and keep you posted as to progress and make a new appointment as soon as I can.  If you need support while I am ill please e-mail me and my office will pick up the e mail and let me know and I will refer you to a colleague for help.

In an Emergency   

We cannot provide an emergency service, but we will follow up with you if you have had an emergency. If you feel you are in a crisis or feel suicidal please ring 999 or present at your nearest Accident and Emergency Unit for an immediate response.  Try to let us know as soon as possible if there has been such an event and we will respond. 

 Confidentiality and Safeguarding

Sessions are confidential, and this means that you have the right that no one should hear about the things that you say to me.  There are a few provisos to this right.  The first is where we have concerns about issues relating to the safety of children or if we am concerned about your safety.  In which case we will discuss any action we need to take with you.  If the tracing agency need to know about any of your specific vulnerabilities, I will check with you first.  This safeguarding relates to both children, adults and adults who are vulnerable and applies to issues such as exploitation, modern day slavery, domestic violence. Please ask for our Safeguarding Policy.        

If you have any safeguarding concerns about our work you can contact your Local

Authority Designated Safeguarding Officer.  There will be a specific officer for your area and you can easily get their contact details by googling LADO (and then the name of your area). We also have a copy of the Government’s booklet ‘What to do if you are worried that a child is being abused’ in our office, and a copy of the Government policy on Safeguarding – Working Together to Safeguard Children.’  Please ask us if you would like one of these.    

Data Protection

We will keep records of your contact details, dates and times of meetings and a short summary of a few lines to remind us and record what we have discussed combined with details of any plans. 

We are obliged to keep Adoption Support Files for the period of a lifetime.  In adoption cases we may have documents on the file with your permission.  We are registered with the Data Commissioner and complaints can be made to the Commissioner if they cannot be dealt with by us.

None of your data will be passed on or sold and we comply with current data protection legislation on this matter.   We will only liaise with the tracing staff with your permission on any relevant matters.           

Your Rights

We do have a complaints policy and deal with any complaint as soon as possible.    Please let us know if there is a problem of any kind and ask for our Complaints Procedure.  We will always try to put things right for you through our own procedures and we like to act quickly if there are problems.   If you do mention problems to us it does not affect your right to complain to the relevant Authority who are Ofsted.    Ultimately, we aim to ensure a safe, respectful, experience for you.  If we ever get this wrong, we really would like to know about it first so that we can put things right as soon as possible. 

Children’s Rights and Vulnerable Adults

The Children’s Commissioner is Anne Longfield.  Contact details are as follows:

Anne Longfield Children’s Commissioner, Sanctuary Buildings, 20 Great Smith Street.

London.  SW1P 3BT

Website: www.childrenscommissioner.gov.uk

Email: and Telephone: 020 7783 8330

Equality and Diversity

You should always feel respected within our organisation for your unique identity as a person and individual regardless of your ethnic origin, cultural rules, language, disability, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.    If we ever get something wrong in this respect or you spot something that is not right for you, then please let us know and we will correct it.  We can arrange for disability access if you let us know and we can arrange an interpretation service if you need this or we can put anything you cannot read or understand onto audio equipment or we can with your permission relate to third party carers who are helping you.      If you have any specific cultural sensitivities, please tell us immediately so that we can support you in this. 

Feedback

We do rely on you for feedback about your experience, so please do tell me how you think this organisation can improve our service to you.  We will offer you a special format to do this easily.    We are always grateful to know if we have any areas in which we need to develop.  We hope to deal with worries or confusion quickly and effectively so please let us know of any problems as soon as possible as this is all part of the therapeutic process.   

Thank you   

In accordance with the BACP Code of Ethics I do find it best to point out from the outset that we never create friendships with clients outside of therapy sessions and don’t socialise in any way with clients.  Please do not be offended by this as these are rules that are ultimately set up for the protection and wellbeing of clients, and to mention this at this stage saves any misunderstanding.  You should, however, expect and experience a friendly yet highly professional service.  We never respond to Facebook ‘friends’ requests or connect with clients on social media so please don’t be upset if you don’t hear from us after our job is done.

We hope that this is helpful information and that you will e mail if you have any further questions – however small  – it matters to us.  We look forward to working with you.   

 Yours sincerely,

Dr. Joanna North M.A. D.Psych. CPsychol. CSci.

2017 Winner of BPS Distinguished Contribution to Psychology in Practice Award
Chair of British Psychological Society Psychotherapy Section 2019.
Chartered Psychologist & BACP Accredited Psychotherapist
Assoc. Fellow & Chartered Member of British Psychological Society
Senior Accredited Member of British Association of Counselling &
Psychotherapy
Ofsted Registered Adoption Support Agency rated ‘Outstanding’ in 2016 and 2018