Can You Leave a Message?

Photo by  rawpixel.com  from  Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Can we talk for a minute? There are many different types of secrets to finding and getting the therapist for you. But today, I want to talk about one of the most obvious ones that I think often gets sidetracked: calling AND leaving a message. Allow me to break down why leaving a message is essential. 

A lot of therapists these days are solopreneurs. What is a solopreneur exactly? Basically, a soloprenuer runs the whole business! We answer the phone. We render the service. We follow up. We do all the work that is necessary.

When I started AnnodRight, I was super excited to be a small Black-owned business in the Washington D.C. Metro area! But I was just a start up with not a lot of money. So that meant I was doing absolutely everything. If you saw marketing, I did that thing. If you saw posts popping up on Instagram or Facebook, I did that thing. If you called and someone answered, it was me. If someone scheduled you for a session, it was me. If someone gave you a call back, if you received an email follow-up, if you received a phone call, a text message, a sky-write, whatever it was, baby, it was me! And in case you didn’t know, that gets exhausting because we are also the ones that will update our websites and our calendars. We have to make sure that we're contacting clients and basically wear all the hats and do all the things that you can think of that happen in a business. One person is in charge of it, thinking about doing it, actually doing it, or having to figure out a process to delegate its getting done. That is the definition of a solopreneur.

Now, that does not mean that your solopreneur is always completely solo. Sometimes they have a part-time person that helps them do some work. So, while I'm still considered a solopreneur because no one else technically works for me, I do contract some work out, so I can sleep on occasion. But even with that help, usually from another soloprenuer, the things that need to be done are plentiful. All that so say that no one can answer the phone all day every day. Which means that I will have to call you back. If I'm in therapy with a client, I can't answer the phone, and that goes for a lot of other therapists out there, too.

Part of the reason I'm bringing this up is because it keeps coming up. I am very blessed that so many of my clients found me through Therapy for Black Girls, and they are ready, willing, and able to work with me, which is exciting! But one thing that they talk about is how they called all these other therapists and no one ever called them back! To be quite frank, I was horrified, shocked, and appalled! I didn’t want to hear a ready made excuse (often steeped in anti-blackness) for why folk won’t patronize Black businesses. But I was also in denial, thinking "No, not my people. We want clients. We need clients!” Now, I'm not saying that things don't fall through the crack for your solopreneur, therapist, or for an agency, for that matter. Things definitely do fall through the cracks, but the way this lack of answering is sounding like a pandemic! But then I asked the question: "Did you leave a message?” For many, the answer was a resounding NO!  So here are some reasons you maybe didn’t get an immediate answer and to encourage you to leave a message!

Top Reasons To Leave Help A Therapist Out & Leave a Message:

1. No messsage..who are they supposed to ask for? So here some of us are, out here calling the number for this therapist or that therapist and expecting them to simply call back and say, "Hey, I got a call from this number, did anyone need a therapist?” NAH! The expectation for someone to call back with no preamble is too high! 

2. Creepy Callers. In speaking from my own experience as a sex and relationship therapist, every now and then, I get a little bit of a creepy call. I get the person that has called me, never had any intention of leaving a message, but will moan on the phone when I pick up or will make lewd comments, and basically make it so that your girl is uncomfortable. So part of my strategy, especially when it was just me, has been to stop answering the daggone phone! So I figured I would screen my calls. Any clients who want therapy would leave a message and my heavy breathers would be S.O.L.

3. TROLLS! Aside from my heave breathers, I also get people that just want to call to tell me how much they hate the work I do. Yeah. They're like, "Oh, I don't understand why you have to specify black women in what you're doing. You're racist." So basically, what I'm saying is that trolls get these numbers just as easily as those who are wanting therapeutic services get these numbers. And though it is not y'all's fault, that does mean that there is responsibility on both ends.

4. Do Not Disturb; Session in Progress. For your soloprenueing therapist, they are trying to fill those days with clients. And when they do, the phone is on silent or off! But I can almost promise you that most therapists want to speak with you and will call you back when they have a moment. 

Suggestion Time!

So what is an alternative? The best way to try and follow up with a therapist when you are seeking services is to, yes, give them a call, but make sure you leave a message with clear direction of what number they should call back. Maybe even leave an email address. But basically, let them know who you are, what you're looking for, and ask them to call you back. Give them a couple of times that are the best time to call you back. That way, it takes some of the guesswork out.

Even better, I always suggest sending an email. Now, I know. It can be little bit nerve wracking at times to send an email, but when you do, I can almost guarantee you that it's going to get answered, and here's why. For most therapists, sessions last between 45 and 50 minutes, but there is a gap between clients. For some therapists, it's a 10-minute gap. For other therapists, it may be a 15 or even 20-minute gap, but in that gap, they might check emails.

Which means that, chances are, we will be able to get to you pretty quickly. If not right then, then later on when we have down time. Because, like I tell all my clients in their first session, I'm not fitting to get cussed out from calling you first thing in the morning or last thing in the evening. So I don't call anybody's house after 8:00 because you haven't given me any directions that that's okay, and I don't call anybody's house before 9:00 because you haven't given me direction that says otherwise.

So basically what I'm saying is help a therapist out. Help them to help you get the services that you are looking for. When you call, leave a message with clear information on how to get back to you, and number two, send a email because that will almost always get answered the quickest.

Now, if you have any questions or any other tips that will help people to get on the schedule of one of those therapists, go ahead and leave it in the comments below. I want to hear from you. All right, y'all. I'm out.

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If you get nervous about leaving a message, here is a short script to try:

                      Hello, my name is _______________. I would like to speak with you about your (couples/individual) therapeutic services. I am looking and think we might be a good fit. Please give me a call back at _____________________. I look forward to hearing back. Thanks