Every therapist working in community mental health knows it all too well. You spend your time researching techniques that you will use for a specific client just to find that the client does not show up for her scheduled appointment.
Sperry, Carlson, Kjos (2003) discuss this dilemma in their book, Becoming an Effective Therapist, and found, through research, techniques that have been shown to improve treatment adherence and maintenance. Some of the techniques the authors found to be most helpful include using various reminders regarding the appointment including telephone, mail, email, and possibly, text, through a company telephone, elicit and discuss reasons for previously missed appointments, involve the client in planning and implementation of the treatment plan and tailoring the plan to the specific client, process any negative feedback from the client regarding the therapy session, teach self-management skills, involve significant others if the client is willing, and use a combination of approaches rather than single strategies. It is important for the therapist to discuss with the client, his or her adherence history, beliefs, expectations, and possible barriers or obstacles to adherence.
Some helpful questions to ask your client include: Why have you come to treatment? What have you heard or been told regarding treatment? What do you expect to happen during your treatment? What do you hope will be different after treatment? These questions will help the client to understand what he or she expects from treatment and be more prepared for the work that the therapy will involve.
Since the goal of every therapist is to help their clients, it is vital for therapists to look at what they can do to ensure their clients show up for treatment.
Sperry, L., Carlson, J., & Kjos, Diane. (2003). Becoming an effective therapist. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.
Cindy Geil, MA