Serena Simmons Consultant Psychologist

Change. Motivate. Adapt. Improve. Perform

Are you paying attention to the details?

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Someone close to me wanted to engage in some psychological therapy recently.

As I know her so well, it would have been inappropriate for me to do this work with her and we knew she really needed someone ‘neutral’. Someone who didn’t know her and would be able to offer objective insight and support.  She did come to me for advice though and asked if I could maybe recommend someone to her?


Off the top of my head I couldn’t think of anyone.  She had told me that as an older women herself it was important for her to see someone who was of a similar age to her.  She also had some requests in terms of her area of speciality. So, I set to, to help her find the perfect fit.

As I always say to my clients.  finding the right person to work with is like finding a good pair of shoes.  You have to ‘fit’ together.  You have to get on and be able to see that you will be able to speak freely with this person and not feel held back inane way.  The success of your work hinges on this.  So, like any show fitting experience you may need to try on a few pair before you find the pair that you like.

– Attention in the detail – 

I did my research and sent off several e-mails to people who I felt fit the specification.

A few didn’t get back at all, so they were instantly ticked off of my list.  My feeling as a practitioner myself is that if you receive a query and you realise that you are not a good fit for the client, that it is still courteous to get back to someone and let them know why.  You may even be able to recommend someone else.  This is good business practice and you never know if someone might come back to you on the basis of your professionalism and good manners.

What happened with another 3 therapists however shocked me to my core and is the reason I am writing the blog post.

You see, 3 of the 8 people I emailed wrote back to me and responded in various ways all with the same apparent issue, and that was lack of attention to detail!

You see all of them responded by asking me questions for which I had already provided answers to in my initial email.  So, what was I left with?  I was left thinking that…

….they had not read my email.

….what I had said had been ignored and that they had run through a series of standard questions without actually paying attention.

…that if they were unable to read 3 sentences of an email, how would they be able to pay attention in therapy to the person I was seeking help for?

…that they were unable to see detail.

…that they were lazy!

On top of all of these things that seem to me to be a natural progression of thoughts, they were not the most polite emails or the best written responses I had seen.

– Are you losing business? –

This wasn’t the first time that I had encountered this kind of response from someone in a professional capacity and yet it frustrated and saddened me all at the same time.

Not only did it appear lazy and unprofessional, but it highlighted of me the obvious fact that people who seek therapy are often very vulnerable people.

They are paying for someone to listen to them and offer insight and a safe place where they feel heard and ultimately supported through something they may be experiencing is is really rather hard.  If at the first hurdle, someone cannot read and respond to an email in my opinion it doesn’t bode well for there work that will follow.  It raises all sort sod questions.  Will they listen…really?  Are they just going it for the money?  Are they capable of picking up on things, the subtleties of my behaviour, and really help me?

You see, you interaction in any professional capacity begins with that very first email or phone call.  From that moment we begin to form or judgments and make assumptions about peoples behaviour, and in someones ability to do what it is they say they do.

As it happens, there was one woman who wrote back a lovely email.  It wasn’t very long, but she had clearly read what I had written.  We arranged to speak and in that short interaction she was able to show not only that she had listened, and I mean really listened, but she already showed to have insight into what this person needed.

Needless to say she was hired in the spot and over 2 months later is still doing fantastic work with the person I set out to help.

– What can we learn?- 

I wonder if you’ve ever encountered something similar in terms of the service that you have received? Were you either put off on the first interaction or maybe you knew straight away that this was the person for you?

If you have a business what can you take away from this?  For me, I try really hard ti make sure that I am professional and that I pay attention to what someone writes or says to me.  For me, the relationship starts with that first interaction.  After that, there is no going back!

Till next week.



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