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