Imagine you are struggling in your marriage or suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety. You do a Google search for a therapist in your area and comb through page after page of websites looking for that perfect match. You find someone and make the call but then quickly hang up. You find the courage to try again. It rings and rings but no answer so you leave a voicemail. Now begins the waiting game. You wait and wait and wait but no return call ever comes.
I hear some version of this story on a regular basis. As therapists we forget how nerve-racking it can be to call a total stranger and share the most intimate and personal details of your life.
Our job as therapists is to help people. This goes beyond just those that are giving us money. We are helpers working in a helping profession. We must do better. Even if your schedule is full you may know a therapist who is a good match for this client or a therapist who could use a few more clients on their roster. It is a win-win. In a time when mental health services are in high demand we should be over, not under, communicating.
I wouldn't be honest if I didn't confess that, on occasion, I have forgotten to return a voicemail or email. But I am recommitting to answering all correspondence with prospective clients within 24 hours or less. Will you join me?
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Reb Buxton, MA is a therapist and writer. He has his own private counseling practice in Nashville, Tennessee.