The obvious value of online scheduling is efficiency and convenience. Therapist and patient do not need to talk with each other to schedule their appointments.
Since our entire method of professionally offering service relies on talking to people, what, if any, areas of our work are affected by utilizing online appointment scheduling?
The initial phone contact from the patient was once referred to as an “intake”.
This was a chance for the therapist to assess an overview of the case and whether they or their agency, would be able to handle the level of care required.
This was also a way for a prospective patient to get a firsthand feel of working with either the particular therapist or the overall view of how the agency would address their matter.
The question for therapists to consider is whether the demographic and “check the box” information of online scheduling, is an equal substitute for a phone assessment intake.
Maybe in fact the first in person session has become the former phone intake.
Only now we have a hopeful new patient sitting in front of us who may not be a good fit for the type of therapy work we do.
What if, when scheduling an initial appointment, instead of prioritizing time efficiency and convenience only, we limit our online scheduling gadgets to situations which do not actively require our professional skills?
Sherry Katz, LCSW is clinically trained in systems relational therapy, and practices marriage and family therapy in her solo practice located in Ridgewood, NJ. Comments and questions are welcome www.newviewsfamilytherapy.com.