I felt the need to write this blog as I notice that many clinicians around the busy seasons, between September to April in the mental healthcare space, offer waiting lists to clients. And I noticed that I felt some type of way about it. It just doesn't feel right to me. So, I thought I'd better write it down and walk my way through it as it may resonate with others and help those who feel like they have to put their mental health on hold, waiting.
Before I get started let me just say that blog post is solely based on my opinions and what I've noticed so far in our healthcare system. A little bit more in depth about me personally is that I've been working in healthcare since the age of 16 years old with my first 'job' in healthcare as a physiotherapy assistant supporting persons with disabilities by demonstrating exercises, applying ultrasound therapy, electrode and TENS therapy, and assisting the physiotherapist. I now know that this was more of a career and I was offered this unique opportunity. Before that I'd taught dance, worked at camps and was heavily involved in my community centre.
After working in physiotherapy, I worked in a busy family doctors office and the 9 physicians for 10 years. Supporting in all areas of patient care from the hands-on in procedures, helping patients navigate life with a newborn and children, helping people advocate for their healthcare, and worked 1:1 in the urgent care clinic. I grew as far as I could until I discovered that I needed to help people beyond a medical assistant. That's what led me to become a therapist and now business owner. I was fortunate to learn a lot of key skills that inform my unique perspective being both a patient and now clinician.
I felt the need to share some of my past experiences to say, that your mental health is happening in the present, the here and now.
Why should you wait when you can form an incredible relationship with a therapist right now and get help?
Now, doctors have waitlists and so do many others in different clinicians outside of the realm of mental health but we don't question it. I think this is mainly because some are so specialized in the populations and services that they are in such high demand. This isn't to say that therapy isn't like that, it is.
However, therapy is a bit different and unique in our healthcare space because it's about the relationship with your therapist that supports you, more than any of the modalities and fancy tools.
A waitlist truly makes me wonder about the ethics of asking people who are struggling to wait.
A waitlist is a barrier to obtaining good treatment and being supported now.
Some people don’t mind the wait and are happy to do so. But what about the others who need support now?
I've heard some differing perspectives on this where some clients have envisioned their practitioner and what they'd hope to gain or receive based off their website, bio and their high demand resulting in a waitlist. Some have sat on waitlists and attended therapy and had the worst experiences ever only to think, "why did I wait so long only to be treated like that?".
Others won't even hear back from a therapist because they just are too busy and many therapists do not respond to inquiries. Wild!
As someone who has always been an advocate if I can't take someone on I have a referral list of therapists who are available and accepting right away. You shoudn't have to wait to get good care.
I feel like it has to be said that just because someone is busy and has a waitlist, it doesn't necessarily mean they'll be the right fit for you.
But the best way is to really just get started with someone who is available and meets your criteria. If you haven't yet had a chance to figure out what might be a good fit for you read out other posts, Choosing a Therapist: Finding the Best Fit, and Things to Consider Before Starting Therapy. These articles provide helpful tips to discover what might be the best fit for you and questions to ask to narrow your search down.
I do often wonder why someone might wait instead of forming a connection with another available practitioner who offers similar services. The core and key of therapy is connection but ultimately you as the client are the one that does the most work not your therapist.
Your therapist is like a guide who walks a trail with you and offers a new insight or perspective. Stopping and pausing along the trail and seeing what could be helpful to integrate into your life, or achieve a greater quality of life through new tools and perspectives.
Many clients don't know this, but there are so many therapists out there that you are in the drivers seat. You are the advocate for yourself and you should get the best care you deserve.
When I see a waitlist, I say good for them and find someone who can see me now. Yes therapists see therapists for themselves too and that's a good things because we are human. It's a good question to ask because you'd want to know that our therapist is growing too.
My recommendation is, why wait when you could receive tangible effective help right now?
You are a priority and deserve to get the support or at least a response to your message. Whenever you discover it is the right time for you to receive support, grown and change than there's no time like the present.
I value your time and respond to every inquiry, I think that's because of my background and even if I'm busy at that time and am not taking on clients I will refer you to someone who can see you. Many will reach back out and if at that time I can see you and we're a good fit then away we go!
All-in-all you are in charge of your healthcare and you have to be proactive and advocate for yourself otherwise how will you ever get the help you need?
I say this in all aspects of healthcare as well. If you receive poor care please report it, majority of healthcare providers in Ontario are regulated by colleges to protect the public.