I was recently interviewed by a psychotherapist/author writing a piece on the initial contact made by potential clients looking for professional help. It was astonishing, as well as humbling, to be brought back to “the basics”, that initial call, and just what that must feel like to the person putting through that call or email. My reason in sharing this is to remind us all of just how important that initial contact is, as well as the feelings and needs of the prospective client on the other end. The most important lessons I took away from this interview were as follows:
1) Remember, every one of us, times we have been in the position of reaching out for help, in whatever form, and what that felt like to us. When leaving a message on someone’s voicemail, how affected are we by the tone of their voice? How warm or inviting is their voicemessage? Don’t forget, THIS is the very first, and possibly last, contact we may have with this person.
2) So, they leave a message and wait for a callback. How long should someone reasonably expect to wait to hear back from that professional? Two days, four, a week, or possibly not at all? I want to remind us all of the importance of timely response, within reason, and the message that sends to someone who reaches out to a psychotherapist for help managing their own life to never receive a call back at all!
3) Lastly, I was really made aware of the feelings of that person. We never truly know how anxious, fragile, or frightened they may be at that step, but one thing we all can be assured of is that it certainly can’t be as simple as ordering a pizza!