By Linda Kelly, MSW, RSW
We're checking the window, making sure the crumbs are vacuumed from the office floor, coffee is fresh, water glasses are clean, and phones are working. I'm preparing resources, reading my notes from the last session, and checking your file so I know what we’re working on.
I paid to go to school for 6 years for this. I did internships, paid for supervision, attend ongoing training, and read books every day to continue to find the best way to help. I found my calling with helping people overcome serious, longstanding traumas, I mentored students, hired staff, and spent my weekends setting up furniture and renovating the building so that every person walking in here would feel safe, comfortable, respected, and valued. I am SO ready to help!
And you…don’t show?
I wait around. We check messages again, try calling, check if you received our reminder email or text message, and still nothing. So we can’t really focus on doing something else to fill the time because there’s always that chance you’ll show up with a story about what happened. It’s tough when we don’t have much time left with you, but we’d still try if you get here. Still nothing, and we apply the fee.
We get a lot of flak for putting the fees in place. And I get it - if this is a service you don't normally pay for, like if your benefits cover it, it can seem unfair to have to pay when you didn’t even get the service.
But by asking us to hold space for you, we commit to you and only you.
We show up, we prepare, we make sure everything is ready so that you have a great experience. And because we don’t double-book, each session comprises 20-25% of the therapist’s whole day. So every no-show or late cancellation that we can’t fill is not only troubling for our whole facility, it’s demoralizing for the therapist who prepares for you.
No-shows and late cancels also affect the people who are waiting to get in. We feel awful when people phone us needing help and we can’t book them for a month. And then we end up having openings, but it’s too late to get people in.
Mental health care is not something that can be postponed. It’s right now. We do the best we can, but having too many no-shows makes us less effective.
Our no-show fee is $50, covering the cost of the therapist and one of the admin staff for the hour you would have been here. It doesn’t cover the building, taxes, employment insurance, other staff, or any other expenses that still have to be paid if you’re here or not. We figure that the least you can do is let us know, especially if you have been flown to Thunder Bay specifically to attend these sessions. (We’re pretty flexible, by the way, so a quick call or message is all it takes).
Late cancellations are tough. We don’t like applying the fee, but if we held the spot for you and you have to cancel it with less than 48 hours’ notice, we simply can’t fill it. And we can’t really make exceptions for some people and not others, because that’s not fair.
If our rule is that we don’t apply the fee if you’re sick, then it’s likely that everyone wanting to cancel will just say they’re sick. So less than 48 hours’ notice is a $25 fee. And that doesn’t even cover the cost of the therapist for that hour. It’s a token fee to help us out for holding up our end of the agreement.
We do our best to provide a valuable service with integrity, compassion, and respect. If we have to apply a fee, it’s because we believe in this service and we want to keep it going for years to come. So help us help you.
If you commit to us, we commit to you. Please let us know if you can’t make it!
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Check out kellymagazine.ca for recent mental health articles and blog posts.
This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide personal support as an alternative to psychotherapy services. Please note that replies are viewable by the public, and we may take a few days to respond. If you require immediate assistance, please call us during business hours.