Clients Say “It’s About Time”

by Buck Black Thursday, July 9, 2015

Online scheduling is smooth, easy, and appreciated … when done right.

Who wants to play phone tag for something simple like scheduling?  Better yet, who wants to get a voicemail with available times, consult your partner with times that work for both of your schedules, only to return the call and find all of those available times are now gone?  Does your therapist let you schedule your appointments online? I guess the answer is no.  We pay our utilities online, interact with friends and family online, watch movies online, but, many therapists are not comfortable letting their clients schedule appointments online.

I have had a range of technology in regards to scheduling clients.  I have gone from a paper schedule and telephone calls to texts and paper schedules and then to an electronic scheduling with the ability to let clients schedule their own appointments.  The consistent feedback I heard after going all electronic is “its about time!”

I still have clients who will not schedule online and who insist on telephone calls.  They may not even leave voicemails because they want complete human interaction.  That is okay.  Technology should help make life easier.  If a client is uncomfortable with the technology, then it would be harmful and should not be used.

There are new clients who appear on my schedule without talking with me.  In fact, this happens on a regular basis.  I reach out to them via phone and leave them a voice mail requesting a free 15 minute phone consult to ensure we are a good match for one another. It helps that the first interaction was through online scheduling where the client has the opportunity to say some things about their concern in the “comments” section of the online scheduler. This is a great start. Online scheduling works best for the first consultation if the therapist and potential client do talk first to get a sense of each other’s style. 

Sometimes, I refer the client to a therapist who will be a better match.  Since the client sends their basic information in an online appointment request, the intake process is easier for the client and therapist.

Remember, technology makes our lives easier.  Therapy should also use technology to make the therapy experience more comfortable and less burdensome.  Lets all use our time on more productive things than scheduling.   

Buck Black LCSW, CST is a therapist who has several years of experience using video conferencing with clients to address anger, stress, and relationship issues and also meets with clients at his office. His information is at www.BuckBlack.com

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Online Scheduling | Social Work | Therapy | Wisdom

Things Your Therapist Should Never Do

by Bethany Raab Monday, July 6, 2015

You will find all sorts of blogs and checklists out there of what to look for in a therapist. These can be incredibly helpful. However, the DO NOTs of therapy deserve some attention, too.

There are many obvious things a therapist shouldn’t do (see: psych central blog).

Here are some less obvious problems that should raise a red flag.

They fail to seek your informed consent.
Any therapist you see will have you sign a consent form at the beginning of your relationship. This is good, ethical practice. However, they should continually seek your consent as you move forward. Before any exercise, whether it be written, verbal, art or something else, they should check in with you to ensure you’re comfortable with what they are asking. You are always allowed to say no.

They do not ask for feedback from you (or can’t accept it).
Your therapist will be asking about how you are doing and what your experience is with various interventions and conversations. This is good. If they’re not asking, tell them. If they don’t listen, get a new therapist.

Manipulate you into remaining as a client.
Assuming you are attending therapy voluntarily and are not a danger to yourself or others, you have a right to decide who you see for therapy and how long you see them. (Patients in hospitals and in involuntary treatment have rights, too, but that’s a different conversation.) Signing a consent form is not a contract for length of services. You are free to leave whenever you want. If a therapist does not feel like a good fit for you, you can decide to see someone else.

Talk to other people about you.
Your therapist should never talk about your case with anyone. Exceptions do exist to this rule including: you give written permission, the therapist receives a court order, you are suicidal/homicidal or discuss child/elder abuse. This also applies to your written therapy record. If these boundaries are crossed, it is inappropriate and grounds for you to file a complaint against the therapist with their licensing board.

Try to be your friend, business partner or lover.
This is a big no-no. Your therapist is expected to follow the ethics of their profession regarding personal relationships with clients. These rules go something like this: No personal relationship with a current client is ever appropriate. Some professions allow for relationships if your therapy ended 2 years ago. Many professionals err on the side of keeping that boundary in place permanently. If your therapist is making sexual advances, suggesting you grab a drink or asks to borrow money from you, stop seeing them immediately and call the licensing board in your state. This is completely unacceptable behavior.

There are countless wonderful, ethical therapists but there are also a few bad apples. Keep an eye out for these red flags to protect yourself when you see a therapist.

Bethany Raab is a licensed clinical social worker in Denver, Colorado. She owns a private therapy practice where she works with teens, families and young adults.
www.raabcounseling.com

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