Being a healthcare professional myself doesn’t mean that I am free of discomfort. After all, I am human, and thus I have been to various therapists and healthcare professionals to take care of my physical and emotional needs.
One aspect of the client-therapist relationship has always been important – the quality of that relationship.
Hardly any therapist would reach out some time after the session to check in how I was doing. Only a few asked me to contact them to share what was happening after the session. The majority didn’t care – out of sight, out of mind.
The Western medical system is seen as generally efficient, no fuss, clinical and science-oriented. Who would expect a doctor, especially a GP, to call or text a week or two later to check how the client is doing since the last consultation?
The common understanding is that the client will reach out if things aren’t going well.
My dad, in his 80’s, still thinks that a doctor is so busy that there is no point calling him to tell him that the new medication he got causes him hot sweats and nausea. Deep down, he believes that they don’t care anyway. So, no, not every client will make that call.
But it’s his responsibility, you might think. I agree, and I don’t.
My daughter went to get a homeopath’s advice, who prescribed her a remedy for her health issue. Since it was her first visit and a bit complicated, the homeopath explicitly told her to contact her if she would fall ill so that she could then advise her on which potency to take next.
She mentioned that she would be off now on holiday, but she would be available via WhatsApp. A week into the course of the homeopathic remedy, my daughter texted her because wasn’t well and got as a reply that she would need to wait until the homeopath is back in the office due to holidays.
One client lost.
What would it have taken to create a list with emergency clients whom she had offered to text her even though she is on holiday? And then honor that promise?
A friend of mine got his mix of compounded supplements from his regular naturopath. About a week or two before he ran out of stock, he contacted her to re-order only to learn that she was now on holiday. Not only was he not informed about that, but he had to wait weeks to get the remedies prepared again.
One client lost.
What would it take to inform clients about the planned break so that they can order in advance? How about keeping track that the supplements would be needed in three months’ time and checking with the client on re-ordering?
What I am missing here is care.
For me, it’s not enough to provide trustworthy and professional service in a session or consultation. That’s what the client pays for.
The quality of after-care separates the wheat from the chaff.
I believe that it doesn’t take much to show clients that you genuinely care about them. Not only as a paying client but also as a human being looking for:
- Assurance that we will do our best to help them get better.
- Support in finding the right treatment, even though this might not be our service.
- Acknowledgment of their struggles.
- Respect to get treated how we want to be treated and cared for.
- Care that includes such little actions as checking in some time after a session, sending out reminders, sharing useful information, a card for their birthday or anniversary or not asking for the no-show fee if it’s a first for a longstanding client.
With healthy boundaries in place, caring for clients doesn’t take much time either.
Set aside an hour or two every at regular intervals for a short check-in or a personal note.
Be mindful of what you promise and honor that promise.
Start automating your administrative work, so you have more time for your clients.
From time to time, ask yourself, if you would be a client of yours, would you feel cared for, and if not, what’s missing?
Now more than ever, we need a better quality of relationships between clients and practitioners.