CoupleSolutions Marriage Counselling and Couples Therapy in New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Surrey, and Vancouver

Client Service Agreement

Thank you for your interest in starting to work with me, Andre Lampa. Before we begin, please read this important information about what you can expect from me and our process, as well as my business policies. If you have any questions or points of concern, please contact me to discuss them. This version is of 30 Sept 2022. If you agree to this, it forms the terms of my service to you.

Defining the Client and Service

Because of the intensity and stakes involved in intimate partnerships, Couple Therapy particularly requires a certain amount of commitment to work together to improve the relationship, and also a commitment to the process of therapy. Commitment to stay in the relationship (without working on it) is not enough. That’s why I no longer take Couple Therapy clients on an “as needed” hourly basis, but only with your purchase of a package of sessions to set your expectations that sustained attention and effort is needed to be successful. Terms of each package are shown on this website, and sent with each purchase.

If your commitment to either your relationship, or to Couple Therapy (or to me as your therapist) is wavering or uncertain, you may instead choose to begin with Couple Decisioning. This service is not about deciding to stay together or not, as you can’t do that properly before you know what you and your partner are capable of. It is deciding whether you will commit to what would be required to improve the relationship or not. I help you examine the choices you face in that regard, and what would be needed from you to improve your current relationship should you wish to do so. I charge for Couple Decisioning at an hourly rate, and you decide after each session whether you want to continue with me for another session or not. Within a few sessions, you should know whether you want to graduate to Couple Therapy or not.

The work above is usually with people in intimate relationships, but it could be with any sort of close group, such as family or work partnerships. In all these cases, when two (or more) of you consent together to this document, my duty is to the relationship between you, not to any of you as individuals. Whether sessions are joint (with everyone present) or solo (meeting with any one of you alone), my duty remains to the relationship.

If you alone consent to this document, you are my individual client. This service can be helpful in examining issues in current, past, or potential future relationships when the others are unknown, unwilling, or unable. In this case, my duty is only to your interests, not to any relationship or other person, even if they join in our meetings as guest participant. The charges for these services are also on an hourly basis.

This table summarizes the information above. If you are unclear about what type of client you are or what format of service you want or will get, please discuss it with me.

Service: Couple Therapy (intimate partners) Couple Decisioning Family, Work Partners, etc. Individuals
Purpose or Goal: Improving the relationship Examine the choices you face, and what would be needed from you to improve the current relationship should you wish that Improving the relationship Examine any relationship topics, current, past, or potential future
Commitment to relationship and/or to therapy required from: All partners Neither All in group, except children None
Who attends: Joint, optional solo Solo in tandem, limited joint Joint Individual, optional guests
Therapist Duty to: Current relationship Current relationship Current relationship Individual only
Charged by: Package of sessions Hourly (min. 1.5 hours) Hourly (min. 1.5 hours) Hourly

Conditions of All Services

My role is to help people develop their close relationships in the ways they desire. I do not resolve specific disputes for you, but help you learn and practice new ways of being with and dealing with others that make it easier for you to work through relationship difficulties while staying close. I employ a variety of well-founded theoretical approaches and practical techniques which are supported by scientific research and best practices from the field of psychology. I do not make use of any mystical, supernatural, or religious beliefs, frameworks, or practices.

I may outline a specific plan for you, or work on developing your goals on an open-ended basis. I do not “fix” or “cure” anyone, but help each of you to discover and make the changes you desire. You will benefit to the degree that each of you are open, willing, and motivated.

In every session, I make efforts to monitor each partner’s current level of comfort and progress. Each of you may gain personal insights, learn new ways to cope, develop new skills, and change unwanted behaviours. Over time, our work usually leads to less distress and turmoil, solutions to specific problems, and more satisfaction and happiness in your relationship.

However, because of your individual differences, histories, and relationship dynamics, I can make no guarantees as to what you will experience or how your relationship may change. As you progress, you may experience disturbing feelings or unwelcome life changes, due for example to uncomfortable processes, unexpected realizations, or shifting ways of relating. In some cases, any of you may decide to terminate your relationship. Such outcomes may be part of your joint or individual path of growth, and are not necessarily incompatible with my appropriate service to you, whether individual or joint. You acknowledge that all responsibility for outcomes rests solely with you and your partner.

Duration of Service

In Couple Decisioning, it usually takes less than five sessions to decide how or whether to proceed.

For Couple Therapy, we can think of frequency, intensity, and duration all contributing to an overall “dosage” needed to make the difference. Just like your doctor would urge you to continue a full course of antibiotics even if you are feeling better, it is important not to discontinue couple therapy too early if you want to maximize your gains and minimize any relapse.

I will offer my observations and suggestions about the course of your therapy, but it is your responsibility to discuss your needs and limitations with me, and coordinate and schedule sessions in a timely and continuing manner without reminders or pressure from me. (This in itself is often a source of discord between partners, so it would be best to bring up this topic in our session.)

There may not seem to be much progress in the first few sessions, but your patience and perseverance pays off. While you may refuse any particular discussion, exercise, or intervention, or indeed discontinue altogether at any time, I recommend you finish at least one package of sessions before deciding whether couple therapy is worthwhile for you.

Particularly, it would be most helpful to all of us if you voice any concerns about the therapeutic process or my service as soon as they arise. I truly welcome the opportunity to make this process work for you. Nevertheless, couple therapists will have different personalities and approaches, and mine may not be a good fit with you. If you remain uncomfortable or dissatisfied, or I ever feel unable to serve you properly, I will attempt to refer you to a more suitable professional.

Upon a decision to discontinue therapy, please ask for a final wrap-up consultation at no charge to help consolidate your gains, determine your future goals, and evaluate my service. If you stop booking without any explanation, I and/or a trusted colleague may contact you to invite you back or to give candid feedback. Regardless, you will always have the options of a different therapist or terminating, without pressure from me.

If, as one member of a joint client, you discontinue use of my service with notice, or without notice for over 30 days, at my discretion I may terminate my duty to you and allow your joint partner to switch to become an individual client without your express permission.

Fees

You will be required to prepay for each session or package in order to hold the booked time. Prepayments are fully refundable or transferable to new bookings, except when you cancel or change a booking that is scheduled to start within 24 hours, do not appear, or appear late. In those cases, I may retain your prepayment to cover the booking, even if our meeting runs short by ending as scheduled, or it cannot proceed at all because I am no longer available to you.

I may change my fees at any time, except for sessions already prepaid. I will give you notice of any changed or additional fees in advance of any requested or required services.

Generally, my fees are not covered or reimbursed by health insurance claims or government or employee benefits plans. Regardless, it is your responsibility to pay my fees directly, whether or not your insurer reimburses you.

Upon termination of my service, I will refund you any prepaid fees for future sessions. If you have prepaid for a discounted package of sessions, I will refund the difference between your prepayment and the total at regular hourly rate of all sessions that have already occurred or are not refundable as described above.

Confidentiality With Outside Parties

As you grant me your trust, I will ask you to disclose a range of sensitive personal information that I reasonably expect may be relevant to our work together. In general, I will not identify or confirm you as my client, nor disclose any of your personal information to anyone else, including your family members, employer, or other physical or mental health care providers, without the express written authorization from all of you. Nevertheless, the following circumstances are exceptions to this confidentiality.

Notwithstanding the above, to maintain a sense of safety and trust during this sensitive process, you agree not to reveal to others any statements or disclosures made by your partner or me in our meetings, nor use such information to the detriment of your partner or others, nor seek from me any notes, recordings, declarations, or testimony for civil or family legal proceedings.

(I am responsible for compliance with the Personal Information Protection Act, which further outlines your rights and how I may collect and use personal information.)

Confidentiality Between Partners

Solo sessions are opportunities for one person to assess and develop their desire and ability to work on the relationship while not directly influenced by the presence of their partner. They may also occasionally include individual work not directly relevant to the relationship.

Solo sessions are common in the Couple Decisioning process, but they may also be useful in Couple Therapy. I may request to meet solo with any partner, and any partner may also request such solo sessions for themselves. I will inform the other partner in advance that such a meeting will take place.

While truth and disclosure are typically seen as optimal for a healthy relationship, in some instances privacy between partners may seem more beneficial. In any case, each person has the right and responsibility to decide for themselves what they wish to reveal to their partner. Thus, with the same exceptions listed above, I will not disclose any information gained in solo sessions or private messages that I am requested to keep from the other partner.

Nonetheless, when faced with such a request, I must consider several complex questions in determining how our work might proceed. How might withholding (or disclosing):

I may then, in consultation with the secretive partner but at my discretion, take any of these courses of action:

Please note the particular difficulty of the latter two scenarios, where confidentiality prevents me from providing any explanation for the change in format, and resulting suspicions (founded or not) may provoke a confrontation between partners. At that point, lying or stonewalling by a secretive partner would only add to any eventual reckoning of damaged trust.

In sum, despite my intent to act ethically, secrets between partners may unfortunately leave one or the other partner feeling estranged or even victimized. As well as detrimental to the partnership, our therapeutic relationship can be damaged. If a person absolutely requires secrets to be kept from their partner, it may be preferable to consult me or another counsellor as an individual client, prior to beginning work as a couple.

Contacts and privacy

Please note, by professional ethical standards, I am unable to accept from clients any invitations, gifts, or tokens, or extend my dealings in any other ways, business or personal.

To protect your privacy, if I happen to encounter you in public outside of sessions, I will usually not acknowledge or speak to you first. Similarly, I regret that I cannot interact with or acknowledge you in social media forums such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. While I very much value and appreciate your personal recommendations of me to others, if you choose to refer someone to me, I suggest that neither you nor they inform me of the connection between you.

If you wish a phone call from me, please inform me of the best times to reach you. Please note that, aside from initial phone contacts, I only consult on personal matters in pre-arranged sessions in person or by secure videoconference. I suggest restricting email, text (SMS/MMS), voicemail and like messages to administrative matters such as appointment details and payment arrangements. One reason for this is that electronic accounts, channels, services, and devices are not necessarily always completely secure from access by others. With its end-to-end encryption, I recommend we use WhatsApp for any sensitive voice calls, text messages, or documents, but you permit me to reply to you by any means you use first.

Most clients allow me to make video or audio recordings of our meetings. Clients benefit when I don’t need to make notes during the session and I can pay better attention to subtle cues, I can review just before the next meeting to keep us on track, and I can more easily evaluate and improve my performance. I always ask for consent when starting a recording, and I will stop it immediately whenever requested. Recordings are retrieved promptly and only stored offline on an encrypted drive.

Electronic messages such as emails and SMS messages occasionally get delayed or even lost in transit. Normally, you may expect me to respond to or at least acknowledge your message in less than 24 hours. If I will be unavailable for an extended time, I may provide you with the name of a colleague to contact if necessary. In an emergency, please get help through crisislines.bc.ca, locate community services through bc211.ca, or call the police at 911 if there is physical danger.

Remote Sessions

If you participate in video or audio sessions with me, I may request your exact location each time. If I determine that you may be experiencing an emergency or crisis that cannot be resolved remotely, at my sole discretion I may contact appropriate health or safety authorities so that they may intervene.

Your comfort and safety are important. For your remote sessions, ensure that you are in a space that is private and safe, where you cannot be overheard or interrupted without your permission. Please feel free to ask for any breaks or pauses needed to manage or deal with important needs.

Each of us is responsible for the security and privacy of our own premises and devices or equipment. I am responsible for the choice of conferencing provider, established by their normal or stated policies and conduct for privacy and service quality.

Since technical setup and quality of connections is vital for our communication, please take all the time you need to prepare fully. I will compensate you for any time lost due to optimizing the call or technical problems by extending the session, refunding for the lost time, or extending a subsequent session, at your option.

If there are any interruptions or disruptions in technical service, I will make every effort to resolve it and assist you in resolving it. In case of lost audio or video, please stay on the call and wait. If the call drops, please try to rejoin or re-establish it. If we lose contact for more than a few minutes, we may get in touch by other means like WhatsApp, texting, voice call, or even email.

Security of Electronic Records

I take the security of your contact and personal information very seriously. Yet, it can never be completely guaranteed.

On any devices I use locally for client records, I employ appropriate technologies to protect them from unauthorized access, such as layered file and/or device encryption, unique and complex zero-knowledge passwords, firewalls, antivirus software, remote tracking, etc.

I do not store any of your information on my website server, never have your credit card details, and do not grant access to client records to any contracted individuals or services.

I may transmit or store some records using various Internet services. I attempt to ensure that all such data is encrypted by secure protocols during transmission and at rest.

You or I may make use of services of companies such as Google Contacts or Grow My Relationship for bookings; the Gottman Checkup or VIA Institute for assessment; PayPal, Interac, BMO, or Wise for payment processing; Zoom or RingCentral for videoconferencing, and others who may have minimal access to appropriate elements of your personal or contact information. Though they may communicate with you bearing the name of CoupleSolutions, I do not endorse or warrant their products or work and shall in no way be liable or responsible for the availability, accuracy, maintenance, or security of any of your data held or handled by them, or for any financial arrangements you enter into with them.

Signatures

By signing below, you indicate that you have read and understand this document and agree to these terms. You may withdraw your consent by giving notice at any time, terminating further services while the remaining terms of this agreement shall survive. You acknowledge that, regardless of our respective locations at any given time, I am domiciled in Canada and any business or work performed falls under the laws and jurisdiction of British Columbia, Canada.

Click here to consent to this agreement by sending an email message.
Each partner (joint client) must consent from their own personal email account.