When is it Discrimination?
Curt and Katie talk about how niche, safety considerations, or competence can be used by therapists to discriminate against specific classes of people. Specifically looking at therapists who decide to no longer work with men.
It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.
In this episode we talk about:
- How therapists might be discriminating when they refuse to work with a specific gender
- Niche, specialization, scope of competence (or scope of excellence)
- How to assess whether you are discriminating or providing the highest level of care (i.e., referral)
- Having a thoughtful process and clear conversation to help clients find the best match
- Assessing safety in deciding who to take into your practice
- The importance of good screening tools
- The problem of refusing to see clients when you are fearful of a whole protected class of individuals
- Marketing to your ideal client to help the clients you’re best suited to help call you
- When there is a competence issue to be a therapist when you are not able to work professionally with specific protected classes
- The role that past traumas and wounding experiences have on our ability to be effective therapists
- Self-awareness versus discrimination
- The argument about whether we “have to” serve everyone who reaches out to us for help
- Options when you don’t feel capable of serving specific issues or specific classes of people
- Referring out, learning more, working on your own triggers
- The standard that therapists are held to
- How not to discriminate – helping clients to make an informed choice, providing professional assistance (referring out)
- When you must see clients according to the ethics codes
- How to take care of yourself as a therapist
- Respecting that we are human beings with limits, while still understanding the higher standard that we are held to
Our Generous Sponsor:
Thanks again to our sponsor, Brighter Vision!
Trusted by thousands of therapists around the world, Brighter Vision has proven time and time again that they are the world’s most trusted website solution for therapists. With a Brighter Vision website, you get paired with a professional web developer that understands you and your practice and will bring to life a beautiful, unique website paired with unbeatable SEO. They won’t leave you in the dust once your site is built, rather, you’ll have the option to change anything on your site with their unlimited customer support policy.
Brighter Vision is having their biggest sale of the year right now! (January 2019)
Save $120 on your first year by locking in your entire first year for just $49/month!
Check them out here: https://www.brightervision.com/guide/
We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links.
Therapy Reimagined 2019: Sign up here to get notified when the details are released.
Our consultation services:
Who we are:
Curt Widhalm is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is a Board Member at Large for the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, a Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, Adjunct Faculty at Pepperdine University, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at: http://www.curtwidhalm.com
Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant. As a helping professional for two decades, she’s navigated the ups and downs of our unique line of work. She’s run her own solo therapy practice, designed innovative clinical programs, built and managed large, thriving teams of service providers, and consulted hundreds of helping professionals on how to build meaningful AND sustainable practices. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at: http://www.katievernoy.com
A Quick Note:
Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.
Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.
Stay in Touch:
Voice Over by DW McCann https://www.facebook.com/McCannDW/
Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano http://www.crystalmangano.com/
Curt Widhalm 00:00
This episode of the Modern Therapist Survival Guide is sponsored by Brighter Vision.
Trusted by 1000s of therapists around the world Brighter Vision has proven time and time again that they are the world’s most trusted website solution for therapists.
Curt Widhalm 00:10
Listen at the end of the episode for a special offer from Brighter Vision.
You’re listening to the Modern Therapist Survival Guide, where therapists live, breathe and practice as human beings to support you as a whole person and a therapist. Here are your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy.
Curt Widhalm 00:31
Welcome back to the Modern Therapist Survival Guide. I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy. And we’ve had a number of conversations in different arenas about therapists safety, we’ve had a number of conversations about how to find your ideal clients. And we often find that these conversations move into Well, what if like, my non ideal clients come into my practice? What if there’s people who want to see me? And they, to me, they largely come down to how can I appropriately discriminate who comes into my office?
Katie Vernoy 01:11
I think that’s a little harsh, Curt. I don’t think it’s solely discrimination. But I think we should have a conversation and sort through what would be considered discrimination and what wouldn’t? And the and all the considerations because I think that it can feel very, very different than discrimination. I think for folks who, who we’ve been talking to, when they’re talking about how they choose their ideal client, and how they refer out the clients that are not ideal for them. But what what are the reasons that you’re calling a discrimination? Why don’t we get clear on what that is? Because I think it feels like a pretty, pretty bold statement to say that therapists are discriminating.
Curt Widhalm 01:51
Well, one conversation that sparks kind of this, this feeling in me, is a conversation that started with a therapist who had a couple of issues with some male clients. It’s a female therapist, she was asking, “Is it ethical for me to not see men in my practice anymore?” That to me, that’s a pretty clear violation of the ethics codes of whatever professional organization that you’re in. If you’re making a decision to withhold professional services from people based on their sex, that’s discrimination.
Katie Vernoy 02:32
Okay. I mean, that seems like that’s the black and white of it. But it seems like that would be more nuanced, depending on how that’s presented, how it’s played out. I mean, to me, it seems like if someone has, has a specific trigger, or a specific thing that comes up with certain types of clients, whether it’s men or women, or people with beards, like it’s something where having, having the ability to identify who you’re going to work best with seems to me appropriate.
Curt Widhalm 03:05
Oh, it’s actually not in the ethics code that you have to serve people with beards, it’s in the ethics code, that you have to provide professional assistance to people regardless of their gender, or their sex or their race in in some states, and in some ethics codes, their marital status, or their veteran status, like these are protected classes, in the ethics codes in a lot of states in the laws as well.
Katie Vernoy 03:33
I get that I think that there’s people are not just those designations, though, I think that there’s also scope of confidence, competence, there’s also scope of practice as far as really looking at where do I Where do I work best? What am I best suited to do?
Curt Widhalm 03:51
I don’t agree, because in every state, in order to get licensed, you have to meet the minimally acceptable competence. That’s what licensing boards refer to people who are able to pass a licensing tests, you are minimally acceptably competent, to work with people of both sexes, to work with people of any race, to the things that you are taught in grad school, through your supervision, in your study, work to pass your licensure. Your competence is to work with people, you have that by being licensed.
Katie Vernoy 04:25
And I think that our standards of who we actually work with in our practice should be much higher than minimal competence. So that’s, that’s what we talk about. We talk about making sure that we’re becoming very competent and, and even excellent in our work and working with the people we work with best. So I understand there’s the minimal competence issue. I completely agree. But I think there’s this piece of ifs if I am minimally competent to treat someone it means that I have to, I don’t know that that feels good. Now, I understand that that may be what the ethics code say, but to me just because someone calls me doesn’t mean that I need to serve them.
Curt Widhalm 05:03
There’s a number of different directions to go off of this. But the one that I’m going to hang on to right here is that we can’t hide behind a perpetual incompetence in our fields, the other parts of our ethics code, say, if you have somebody who requires your services that you are able to see, that you are not discriminating against, you should learn more about their particular issue in order to serve them, you should get supervision, you should get consultation, you should go to trainings.
Katie Vernoy 05:36
I think that minimizes the, the need for specialists in our field. And I think it minimizes how intense the training should be for some of the areas of competence. And let me continue before you start in their Curt. Because if we look at general practitioners, general practitioners are able to treat a lot of things and they see a lot of clients that come in, but they are not specialists. And to be referred out to a specialist because I have a specific type of asthma or because I have a specific type of migraine headache is is them recognizing that someone else has dug deeper in this particular area, and would be better suited to treat me, I get that you’re talking about different, you know, kind of discriminating based on demographics. But I think when we’re really looking at all the things that make us us there are there is a depth of knowledge that would serve us better as clients, if our therapists made sure that they were actually working in the space where they are best working, I think it actually strengthens our profession for us to do so.
Curt Widhalm 06:40
I think you’re making a case against any new therapist being able to see anybody because if they’re specialists for every particular presenting problem, a new therapist isn’t going to be competent to see anybody.
Katie Vernoy 06:53
Well, we could we could go down that road. And I understand what that you’re that you’re trying to make the argument that that but but at this point, new therapists are the general practitioners of our field. (Curt Widhalm: And you should see people who have who have issues like) yes, they should. So they’re not they’re not completely just generalists, because all of our all of our new folks have had some sort of practicum, they’ve had some sort of more focused experience. And they may decide to dig deeper and continue to learn and grow in their or they may decide to continue in the generalist arena forever, or to continue as a generalist until they identify what they want to specialize in. So I think that’s not a great argument, because of course, new therapists are going to, to have each of them are going to have their own level of competence and different things.
Curt Widhalm 07:44
And I know that it’s been, you know, a couple of millennia since we’ve taken art licensing tests. In my capacities now, as a subject matter expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences. In writing licensing tests, you remember your test where it covered a broad variety of clients, many of which you probably have never seen before. By virtue of it being on the licensing test, by virtue of being in the exam plan, you’re expected to be able to serve those kind of clients independently after you pass the test. I understand that.
But that doesn’t mean that I need to be required to do so.
But you are competent to do so.
Okay, I’ll, I’ll give you that one. But because I’m competent, I’m now required to see them does not seem respectful to me,
Curt Widhalm 08:37
If you are acting in your professional capacity, you need to be able to provide service to these clients. Whether that’s an appropriate referral, whether that’s being able to see them, but I imagine phone calls that would come to you. I’m picking on you, particularly in this particular example, because you’re paneled with insurance companies, I’m not. So somebody calls you up says, “I have such and such insurance, do you have availability to take me on as client?” And you say, “Well, yes, I have availability.” And you say, “what, what’s it about?” And it’s I have anxiety, something that most therapists at many points in their career would feel very competent to be able to address. But in looking at some of these conversations of, okay, well, if it’s a man with anxiety, and you don’t want to see men in your practice, you have already indicated that you have the availability, you have the competence to be able to see this person. And now you’re just not going to see him because he has dangly bits between his legs.
Katie Vernoy 09:49
I think that first off, I think there’s there’s this piece of the argument about discrimination because I do understand what you’re saying that if I if I say “yes I have availability. and yes, I treated anxiety but because because if because you’ve been identified as male now at this point, I’m not going to serve you.” Yes, that’s discrimination. But it’s not that simple. Certainly, if someone were to call me and say, I found you through my insurance company, and I didn’t have availability, I would want to sort through if I was the best person to serve them. And that’s how I would have that conversation, I wouldn’t say sure I have availability, I would say, you know, I have very limited slots. And I like to make sure that I’m going to be the best match for the clients, I take in. Let’s talk a little bit about what, what you’re wanting to work on. And I’ll see if I’m the best person or if I can find you about a referral of someone who can work more more effectively with you.
Curt Widhalm 10:42
I’d trust you to do that. I’ve known you long enough. I respect your career. There’s therapists out there who are not making that kind of thoughtful process through this.
I get that, but we should not assume that everyone’s not making that thoughtful process. And instead of saying that we’re, they’re they’re discriminating, I think helping them to identify how to have this thoughtful process is more helpful in the discourse.
But when the conversation starts with, I don’t see people have a protected class. That’s discrimination, regardless of the reason.
Katie Vernoy 11:18
Yes, I agree with that point. I think it’s something where people can sometimes not be as distinct and how they talk about things as you are. And so I think being able to sort through what is this about and identifying is it truly because of discrimination because they don’t want to see it somebody from a protected class. And it’s because of a prejudice or some other reason that they’re discriminating I think, yes, come out guns blazing. But if it’s someone who’s fearful for their life, I don’t think we should be should need to work or should be forced to work with anyone that we truly feel unsafe with. Now, I get that a whole protected class should not scare us, necessarily. But I do think that we should have the ability to assess our safety and determine whether we can work with a person or not.
Curt Widhalm 12:18
Right. And this is a healthy thing, especially in in our practices of having good screening procedures.
You know, we can’t rule out that all men are going to attack their female therapists. Actually, we can. This is part of what we do in our, you have a history of violence. If you ever been arrested. Have you ever been involved in domestic violence? Have you ever been involved in a physical altercation? These are screening questions that would be good in making a decision of I don’t feel comfortable based on your past behavior. Not I don’t feel comfortable because your chromosomes have different letters.
Katie Vernoy 12:56
I think that’s simple to say. And I think that if I were to consistently start asking my clients about their history of violence, I think that feels more discriminating than talking about not being not having room in my practice, because I think someone could feel very there, there’s assumptions being made, that I need to assess your level of violence, because you have dangly bits.
I mean, it’s it’s a standard question on my intake questionnaire. Have you ever been arrested? Have you ever been involved in a physical fight? Standard questions, every client in my practice answer’s.
Katie Vernoy 13:34
Yes. But at that point, they’re doing your intake paperwork. And if become a client, that’s not something that you’re asking on a phone screening before they’ve become your client. I think there’s there’s ways to assess and of course, we have ways to assess on the phone to determine our, our, you know, kind of our if our spidey senses are tingling, if there’s something about the conversation that sets off red flags, yes, we I think certainly need to investigate further but, but engaging that client in services by sending the intake packet, sending a first appointment, all of those things, I think we then put ourselves in the place where we need to continue forward, unless there’s good reason not to. So I think being able to do more screening on the phone makes sense. But assuming someone needs to be assessed for violence, because their voice is low, is also I think of concern.
So what do you recommend?
Katie Vernoy 14:22
I recommend having some conversations, I think we also have talked a number of time about making sure that our our advertising or marketing is very clear on who we treat best so that we’re going to have the people call us who we want to work with. But I think that there’s this extra piece of really sorting through how do I make sure that I’m safe? I mean, I think it’s different for each person. I mean, what are your thoughts because I don’t think we need to, I don’t think we need to start screaming every person for violence on the phone. I think that feels weird and may actually decrease the number of clients we get if we’re consistently assessing for violence over the phone.
Curt Widhalm 15:04
I’m thinking back to a particular conversation where this started. And my real beef with it is that this therapist was making a flat out, I’m not gonna see men, because of these past experiences, it was a personal trauma that the therapist was carrying, which I interpret as somebody versed in the ethics codes, as somebody who writes questions based on the legalities of these kinds of decisions, that if this therapist is not able to work in a professional capacity with roughly half of the population, this person is not have a professional capacity to work with any of the population.
Katie Vernoy 15:52
I think that’s short sighted, I really believe that all therapists have had some sort of trauma or wounding experience, or at least most of us some of the research I’ve done, it’s like 70%, or more, right. And so all of us are going to have triggers, all of us are going to have these things that we need to be aware of and work with our consultants, are therapists with. But that doesn’t mean that we are incompetent to practice, I think recognizing the limits of our ability to practice with certain certain issues, certain types of people and what they’re going through, I think that is, that’s actually good self-awareness. Now, when it crosses into discrimination, I think we need to be very cautious. I don’t think people should be allowed to discriminate, but I do believe that if someone is working something through, they should be able to sort through and decide who they see. So I know that I’m not saying like, where should the line be drawn? I get that. But I think we need to respect that therapists cannot be expected to be perfect. In order to be able to practice with the clients they work best with. I think knowing that they work best with a certain group of clients, and particularly focusing on seeing those clients is something that is actually good practice.
Curt Widhalm 17:08
I’m not advocating for working at being perfect as therapists. But I think that there’s a huge dividing line when it comes to our profession, that when we act in our professional capacity, we are stating to the public, I have the ability to take care of you. (Katie Vernoy: Okay.) If my issues are getting in the way of me being able to take care of somebody, that’s a me issue. That’s me, as the therapist, I am held to that higher behavioral standard. You know, one of the criticisms that we hear all the time is, why are therapists who get DUIs, you know, punished so harshly by the licensing boards when lawyers or other professionals might not be? And the answer is, because we’re held to that higher standard, we are held to a level of being able to take care of the vulnerable people who are seeking psychotherapy.
Katie Vernoy 18:05
I agree that we need to be held to a higher standard, I do not agree that that means that we have to be able to take care of every single person. Because that’s not that’s not real, that’s not appropriate. Because just because we’ve decided to become a licensed psychotherapist does not mean that we have to treat every single person that needs our help, that sacrificing ourselves and that is not, you know, you know, I’m not gonna stand behind that.
Curt Widhalm 18:30
Well, the ethics code say we need to provide professional assistance when we’re acting in our professional roles, doesn’t mean that we have to serve them as clients. But when it comes to a therapist, personal triggers or personal traumas, leading to a discrimination against a protected class, federally protected, state protected, ethically protected class. That therapist is not reflecting well on the profession, that therapist is potentially pushing a client away from seeking services at all based on a personal issue that’s getting in the way.
Katie Vernoy 19:13
I agree with a portion of that, but I think it’s so black and white. And I understand that if we were talking about somebody being afraid of women, for example, that there would be women up in arms because you know, women feel more like a protected class than men. You know, and I understand that it’s it’s you know, it is sex, gender assigned sex, whatever, but I think it’s it’s something where when we’re looking at how how we interact with the world. Women and men have different experiences. I think that there’s you know, people of color and and white people have different experiences. I think It gets really complex when we start down this road because it can, because I think discrimination is wrong. But I think someone acting to protect themselves, to feel safe to be able to do the highest quality work is also important. And I think, I think there are going to be times that each of us find that we need to refer out because we know that we can’t do our best work with the person in front of us. And that may be because of our own failings, our own triggers our own traumas, it can be because of ourselves. But because we refer out It makes us stronger therapists. And so to me, I have a hard time just drawing a hard line on this.
Curt Widhalm 20:47
I think that referring out is one step that has to be followed through. And my fear is that people look at that as being the only answer, (Katie Vernoy: okay). It’s not just enough to refer out, you also need to work on the issues yourself, you need to improve in that area. So that way, you’re not making that same judgment over and over again, and creating blanket rules, based on a personal experience, and you bring this up, is that it’s a lot easier to engage in the nuances of this conversation, because we’re talking about rejecting men, we were talking about rejecting black people, if we were talking about rejecting LGBT clients, if we were talking about any of the more traditionally oppressed groups of people, you would have people jumping up and saying, absolutely, we need to stand up for people of color, being able to seek services, we need to stand up for LGBT clients to do this. But the historical protections afforded based on sex and gender also apply to men and apply to white men.
Katie Vernoy 22:04
But I think that there is a caveat and a complexity there, that isn’t just, yes, they need to have access to services, it’s that they need to have access to affirming and appropriate services. And if someone wants to not treat folks in those protected classes, and those folks who have been systematically oppressed for the folks that we’re talking about, I think that there, there’s many times that I’ve heard the the argument that, in fact, we would prefer not to be served by someone who would rather not work with us, because they’re not going to be affirming because they’re not going to understand the issues. And in fact, it would be better to be referred to a more LGBTQ friendly or affirming therapist or a person of color or someone who works more effectively cross-culturally. And so I think that it’s not, it’s not simple, like, “Oh, we would be up in arms”, I think it’s something where being able to identify a way that people can work well, in this type of a relationship is important. And this piece of the the level of intimacy that happens in a therapeutic relationship, where we really are in relationship with these folks, we know a lot about them, we’re with them, when they’re very emotional when they potentially are angry. You know, as therapists, we need to make sure that we’re making really good decisions. And yes, referring out is one of them. Yes, working on our own issues is one of them. But I think as a profession, we need to recognize that some of the standards we hold therapists to need to be really looked at because a lot of therapists looking at how the standards that therapists are held to I think there is a piece where I think some of them potentially, I think they’re valid on the consumer protection side, but on the therapists side, I think we need to really have understanding and compassion for people who have chosen to do this work. Because we need to support people and making good decisions treating themselves well, and if we’re saying you have to work with everybody, regardless, because you’re minimally competent, I think that’s, and you can’t discriminate against anybody because, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, I think we need to be discriminating and how we move our practice forward so we can continue to do it. I don’t think we should discriminate. I think we should we should we be very clear and how we work best and do that and continue to improve ourselves in all arenas. So I don’t I don’t disagree with the main points, you’re saying. I’m saying that to go hardline on this as discrimination closes the conversation on how we can help therapists better serve more people.
Curt Widhalm 24:33
I’m still gonna call it discrimination. (Katie Vernoy: Okay), but, but I’m going to say here’s how we change this into not discrimination.
Okay, I think that’s the more the more helpful part of the conversation. So how do we turn it not to discrimination in a legally and ethically appropriate way?
We definitely talked about this in our brand called you workshop, and I don’t remember in our brand called new episode of this specific point is brought up well,
No, I don’t think We had had that conversation yet.
Curt Widhalm 25:04
So I think that there’s you’re calling it a nuanced line, I’m calling it a very wide difference between saying, “I work well, with teenagers, I work well with boys, I work well with these particular populations self harm EMDR.” If somebody is calling me up and says, I’m a 45 year olds, single person, I don’t have any kids of my own, but I enjoy your sense of humor, I enjoy your presentation, whatever it is, however, they found me, (Katie Vernoy: yeah) Would you see me? And I would say, “Well, my experience is working mostly with teenagers, it’s working mostly with trauma, it’s working mostly with self harm. Is this something that you as the client would feel best coming in and working with me?” This is fine. Because I’m sharing what my experience is. I’m sharing what my competence is, I’m letting the client make a decision. I’m not saying I don’t serve adults, I don’t serve women. I’m saying, you can make an informed choice. This is what our ethics code says that (Katie Vernoy: yeah) make the choice that if you’re initiating contact with me, that’s okay.
Katie Vernoy 26:23
I think that’s a good place to start. But I think I take it further. I say I have limited spaces in my therapy practice. And so I really only serve those who I serve best. And this is who I serve best. So I’m going to need to refer you out. Is that discrimination?
Curt Widhalm 26:40
No, it’s not discrimination. Because if you’re doing this as a overall practice, regardless of who’s calling in, (Katie Vernoy: yes), that’s fine.
Katie Vernoy 26:50
Okay. So if I, if I’m very clear on my niche, and I say I work with survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, typically women, but childhood survivors of childhood trauma and abuse, and someone calls me and they’re calling about anxiety, and life changes, life transitions, and I say I only work with survivors of, you know, adult survivors of childhood trauma and abuse.
I’m okay with that. Because you’re not drawing a line based on a protected class.
I’m not saying children, I’m referring all my old kids out.
That’s age discrimination.
Katie Vernoy 27:29
Okay. So the fact that other therapists locally are way better with kids than I am. (Curt Widhalm: That’s a valid point). Okay. So, so, I basically say I work best with with this group of people with these specific, specific presenting problems. And I have these colleagues such and such, such and such and such and such, who are amazing working with kids, like your daughter, or like your son, I would love to provide you with those referrals.
Curt Widhalm 28:00
Yes, in providing professional assistance, you are still allowing the client to make an informed choice, you are acting professionally, you are serving somebody in a way that would best suit them. That’s all fine.
Even if they say, we really want to work with you. And I say I’m sorry, I just don’t have the space.
Curt Widhalm 28:28
You’ve already said you have a few spaces that I’m reserving for people who I serve best. There’s an expectation of you being able to say who, who you’re going to best serve. And I don’t imagine that there’s a lot of clients out there, they’re going to drive into, “No, I insist on being seen by you”, regardless, no matter what.
Oh, you’d be surprised everyone wants to work with me Curt?
Why do you still have those spaces?
I’m very, very specific.
But it’s allowing the clients to make the informed choice. If you are discriminating, you’re discriminating. Okay, for ethics code, say don’t do that.
Katie Vernoy 29:07
Okay. But I think it’s something where part of the conversation we had in the workshop was if there if there are not other therapists refer to you have to take them into your practice. And to me, that is a very slippery slope into filling your practice beyond capacity, because no one else can see clients. And I just I get worried that this continues this this kind of sense of entitlement that if somebody needs our services we have to give them and that’s not good for our profession either. And so I don’t know, I don’t know where the line is. Because, you know, in truth, I don’t have any spaces in my practice. And oftentimes, I may fit someone in if they’re especially, you know, lined up with who I serve best, especially if they’re not able to find a therapist. But in truth, I just can’t see any clients anymore. And fortunately, I’m in an area where there’s a lot of therapists around who I can refer to, which is great. And I know a lot of them. But I think there’s this piece of, you know, folks in rural areas, or folks in an areas that are don’t have a lot of therapists, if someone comes to them, they are not the right therapist for them. But there’s no other therapists around, do they have the right to say I don’t, I’m not going to serve you well, and or I really don’t have any space. My therapy practice is full, assuming both of those things are, you know, one or the other is true, like what do people do in that situation where there’s really not good alternatives to refer, and they just either don’t have space, or they just know that they’re not going to, they’re not going to be able to provide the quality of care that this client needs.
Curt Widhalm 30:42
There’s a there’s a couple of points here. And I’m glad that you bring up kind of the rural versus urban thing, because Katie and I both have tons of colleagues in our very immediate vicinity is it is more of an issue in a more rural area, (Katie Vernoy: for sure), you’re going to be expected to be able to provide services to more people, the more therapists that are around, the more that it does benefit everybody to specialize, yes, having a competence, then allows you to market that and allows you to get those clients that you would best be serving anyway, calling you first. In more, rural settings, you have a responsibility to take on a wider variety of clients, especially if you’re the only game in town.
So what does happen when you’re the only game in town, and you truly have no more space in your practice?
Curt Widhalm 31:45
That’s waitlist. That’s referrals to somebody else within state boundaries. Yeah, I’m sorry, I have a waitlist that I can put you on. It’s going to be four weeks before I can serve you. If you need somebody earlier in that time, you might want to check out who’s able to provide telehealth services to you I would suggest starting to look in this referral directory.
Katie Vernoy 32:08
Okay. Because I think that that part of how I heard what you were saying previously, was that because we’re therapists, we’ve signed on, got our licenses, or are in the process of getting our licenses, that we have to serve everyone. And I feel like that there is some more nuance to that it’s not black and white, we can really seek to to serve the clients we serve best, and potentially make appropriate referrals continue to grow our experience and knowledge, especially if we’re in an area where there’s not a lot of therapists. But I think I think there is that that piece, where figuring out how we as therapists can take care of ourselves in these situations, because there’s oftentimes one of the hardest parts about being a therapist is that we walk into rooms and have conversations that most people walk out of, and we have to keep walking back in and having these conversations. And this is this is what we do. And there’s times when those conversations are triggering to us. And we need to be able to figure out how do we take care of ourselves both in the moment, and how we take current referrals and how we move past it so that we can better serve more people. But I really believe that expecting us to serve everyone isn’t realistic. And it doesn’t respect that we’re each human beings. Yes, we’re held to a higher and higher standard, but we’re each human beings. And so having some tools to try to hone your practice, to the practice that you can work best with. It sounds like that’s a positive way to do it. As long as we’re not specifically discriminating against people based on a protected class.
Curt Widhalm 33:56
Couldn’t agree more.
All right, well we’re way out of time now, so we should finish.
Curt Widhalm 33:53
So this is obviously something that everybody’s going to have opinions on. I really do encourage you if you haven’t already joined our Facebook group, the modern therapist group. It’s a great place to continue on with these conversations interesting with us and let us know your ideas and your thoughts. And until next time, I’m Curt Widhalm with Katie Vernoy
Thanks again to our sponsor, Brighter Vision.
With brighter vision website you get paired with a professional web developer that understands you and your practice and will bring to life a beautiful unique website paired with unbeatable SEO.
They won’t leave you in the dust once your website is built. Rather you’ll have the option to change anything on your site with our unlimited customer support policy.
You have the biggest sale of the year going on right now in January say $120 on your first year by walking in the entire first year for just $49 a month.
Katie Vernoy 34:44
At Brighter Vision you could a website that looks like you spent 1000s of dollars but all it costs you is less than $2 per day
Curt Widhalm 34:50
To learn more go to www.brightervision.com/guide
Thank you for listening to the Modern Therapist Survival Guide. Learn more about who we are What we do at MTSGpodcast.com. You can also join us on Facebook and Twitter. And please don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss any of our episodes.