In today’s age, there’s unfortunately still an ugly stigma surrounding mental health. People don’t want to let on that they’re in a constant battle with depression or anxiety (sometimes both) and they certainly don’t want to let anyone know they see a therapist.
Fear of judgement by one’s peers is still a very real problem, and there are those that worry that if it’s learned they see a psychologist, they’ll be forever labeled as “crazy.” Fear of being recognized can keep patients out of the psychologist’s office. If they do make the leap and run into someone they know in your practice’s lobby, be prepared to be accused of violating HIPAA regulations. Of course, having business insurance for your mental health facility will protect you in the event that a patient registers a complaint against you. Don’t wait for that to happen.
Here are a few ways to protect your patient’s anonymity and to help them feel comfortable in your office:
Sitting in a waiting room waiting to see the psychologist can be scary. Will someone the patient knows walk through the door? What excuse can they give for being there? As mentioned earlier, many people are afraid of being looked at differently by their peers because they see a therapist. Mind Body Green reports that people don’t want to be seen as “[unfit] or incapable of solving their life problems on their own. This fear of being seen as ‘less than’ is an extremely strong force that keeps people from seeking therapy.”
By providing a physical buffer zone between patients, you can help ease their fears. One way to do this is by having patients enter your office through one door and exiting out another. To make sure two patients aren’t waiting for their respective appointments in the lobby at the same time, schedule their appointments an hour apart.
White Noise Machine
Even though there is a wall between the lobby and the psychologist’s office, patients might still worry that their session is being overheard by people waiting in the sitting room. To help your patients relax during their session, install a white noise machine in the waiting room. They’ll notice that the only sounds they heard while waiting for their appointment was of ocean waves crashing against cliffs. This will help make them feel that they can freely speak to you without being overheard by a stranger.
Keep the Office Updated
If you walked into a therapist’s office and stuffing was coming out of their couch pillows and a water stain was on the ceiling, how likely would you be to visit that office again? If the physical therapy space isn’t well-kept, patients will assume you won’t be able to take care of them. Adorn your office with modern fixtures and slap a fresh coat of paint on the walls. Can’t afford new furnishings? Look for furnishings at your local second-hand shop. As long as the sofa isn’t stained, the fabric isn’t ripped and there’s no permanent indentations, the sofa is good as is!
Keeping patients comfortable during a session is key to helping them grow. If a patient doesn’t feel protected, you’re not protected. Invest in medical insurance for mental health today to make sure you’re not given a run for your money.
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