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

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Online Scheduling | Social Work | Therapy | Wisdom

Video Sessions Improve Therapy

by Buck Black Thursday, December 11, 2014

In this age of connectivity, clients expect therapy to be accessible. I continue to see unmet demand for video therapy. Few therapists offer this service which I started doing a few years ago. My clients benefit from video therapy in many ways. I have clients traveling who want to keep their appointments.  I use video to meet with college students who return home for the summer and breaks. I use video to meet with clients during snow days, transportation problems, forgotten appointments (just log-on for a session so the appointment time can still be used) and for those whose illness was contagious, yet they needed their session because they felt so bad, both mentally and physically. I also have business people who want their session, but cannot afford the travel time on account of their busy schedule.

It is difficult for rural residents to get services.  Video sessions make this easier.  Rural clients, however, often do not have a fast enough internet connection, but this will improve in time.  Some rural clients have a high quality cell signal, which allows them to hold a session, but this cuts into their data allotment. I have had success relying on a phone call for the audio and tolerating a lower quality video feed.

In my experience offering the option for video sessions helps me give my clients a higher level of care and means my clients are more likely to keep their appointments. If the client is comfortable with the technology, it works well. If their internet connection goes out, then the phone is a backup. There are many clients not comfortable with video sessions and choose to only come to the office. This is OK too. Over time I believe more people will be comfortable with video sessions. 

There are some situations where video sessions are not appropriate. Examples include clients who pose a high risk, such as homicidal and/or suicidal ideation, psychosis, or who simply need a more intense services.  I never use video sessions with someone who is court ordered or having problems with denial. I don’t feel video sessions are powerful enough in this situation.  However, if someone is looking to better themselves and is higher functioning, video sessions are often ideal.

Remember, it is important for both therapist and client to have a history of using video conferencing services and have quality internet, a high quality router and computer, and good lighting. We need to ensure the technology adds to the therapy experience.

Therapy must embrace technology to remain relevant and to help clients.  If licensed therapists do not embrace video therapy, those in need of therapy will seek less qualified people who are using video services.  Lets not let our profession be left behind.

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.  Therapy appointments are also available at his office. His information is at Follow him on twitter @BuckBlack


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