When I started my private practice, I hated doing phone conversations. I thought they were a waste of my time.
In my old system, clients emailed me or reached me through a form on my website. They usually stated why they were reaching out. For example, “Hi Jackie, I’d like therapy for depression.”
I’d reply with an email and offer a time to meet for an intake session. It was pretty simple. And I filled up my caseload quickly.
My full schedule further fueled my dislike of phone consultations. I was already full with clients, why would I want to waste my time with a phone consultation?
My view of phone consultations changed when I restructured my business. I was tired of having an overflowing caseload and was emotionally exhausted. Over the course of months, I shifted to a small caseload of clients and focused on a specific niche - highly intelligent women with overwhelming thoughts and emotions. To support this small caseload, I raised my prices. I also put other policies in place to ensure clients had the necessary consistency to do the deep level work I wanted to do. I required weekly meetings (you can read more about why I require weekly meetings), instituted a no-cancellation policy, and made sessions 80 minutes long.
All of these changes make me very different than other therapists. When someone inquires about therapy now, I want to be absolutely clear with them about what I do, the cost, and the commitment.
A phone consultation is the perfect place to do that. I want to make sure they are ready for the investment and that I am a good fit for them.
I also want to make sure that future clients are a good fit for me. For example, if someone mentions they are actively struggling with an addiction, I am not the best therapist for them. I want to refer them to a therapist who can truly help them.
I now require 20 minute phone consultations for all inquiring individuals.
In a phone consultation, I touch on the following topics:
Why they are wanting therapy
What makes now the right time for therapy (I am gauging their commitment to therapy)
Space for any questions they have about me
What is art therapy and how I work as an art therapist
Practices that set me apart from other therapists
Weekly 80 min sessions
More space for questions
Schedule an intake
In my experience, if the client and I are a good fit, it's something we can both sense. I feel good about moving forward and so do they. They typically schedule an intake during the phone consultation.
I've found that people who are not ready or ask for more time to think about it usually do not schedule. That's ok with me. I want to work with clients who are excited and feel good about their decision to pursue therapy. Phone consultations are a chance for them to build that excitement and set proper expectations for therapy.
I don’t think it was a mistake to not offer phone consultations initially. I was a generalist and didn’t need them. But now, with how I operate my business, they’re an absolute necessity.