Hello! Welcome back (or welcome!) to our blog series “New to Therapy”. This article assumes that you went through all the hard work of finding a counselor who feels like the perfect fit for you and still feel stuck. Now all you need to do is start a conversation with them, right? Or, perhaps you, like countless others before you, feel totally stumped looking at the blinking caret in an email draft.
How in the world do you start a conversation with a stranger telling them you want to share your whole life story with them? I totally get it, I struggled too. It’s like trying to send a message on a dating website for the first time: what do you do if they never respond? or if they think you’re totally messed up?
Despite how scary I know it can be, reaching out is a huge step forward and I am so happy you’ve come this far! All it takes is a little bit of planning and a whole lot of bravery. Here’s a template that will hopefully help ease some of that first-time anxiety, and a few tips to get you started!
If you prefer email:
Hello, name of professional.
I hope this email finds you well! I am reaching out because I think you would be a good fit as a therapist for me and I wanted to know your availability for new clients. I found your information on _______ (psychology today, social media, referral from friend, etc.)
- Feel free to include anything specific you found online that influenced your decision to choose them. Was it their sense of humor, a specific post you saw, or the pictures of a dog on the website? It could be a good icebreaker for the first session or just a good way to start a comradeship (who doesn’t want to talk about their dog?)
- Discuss the basics of what’s bringing you to therapy (work stress, relationship troubles, anxiety, etc.).
- If you have any questions remaining after researching, feel free to ask them here. Do you need to check for weekend or evening availability? Do you need to check about superbills or sliding scale rates? Are you curious about anything specific that you saw while researching them?
Please let me know your earliest availability for a new client and how to go about scheduling a session together.
Thank you for your time,
Sapphire Coker (I would probably use your own name here, just a thought 😉.)
- This template works even if you are emailing a scheduling assistant or a group establishment, just be sure to list which clinician you’re specifically interested in. (If you don’t have someone in mind, you can ask whoever is scheduling for recommendations. Ask about things like first availability for new clients, any specialties clinicians may have, certain time or day availability, or certain personality characteristics.)
- If the person you are reaching out to someone who has a PhD or PsyD, the honorific Dr. in their title is optional, but could go a long way in making a good first impression.
If you prefer phone calls:
Hello! My name is _________ and I am calling to schedule an appointment with name of professional.
- Include specific scheduling requests you have. “I was wondering what the first Tuesday availability looked like”. Or “What’s the next time they would have a 4pm appointment open?”
- Cover the basics of what’s bringing you to therapy. “I’m experiencing a lot of anxiety in my life right now”.
- Ask your questions. Same deal as with the email, this is still a good place to ask anything that’s still nagging in the back of your mind.
Tell me about the scheduling process and how I get started.
Have a great day!
- Don’t be surprised if you get asked for things like an email, a callback number, or even credit card information. If you’re unsure why someone is asking the information on the first phone call, ask them why. Usually, it’s because the therapist has found that it’s the easiest way to schedule or stay in contact.
- Always leave a voicemail (and give a good callback number)! Spam robots have gotten industrious, and sometimes even office phones get spam calls nowadays. If you leave a voicemail then the person who receives the call knows A) you’re a real human and B) how to best get in touch with you to avoid a game of phone tag.
In the end, these conversations can be as formal or as casual as you would like and contain whatever feels most important to you.
We wish you all the best as you continue this journey and again, we are so happy to have you here. Congratulations on taking this big step!