Showing Up for No Shows

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Every therapist I know has to deal with the inevitable missed appointment.  This blog is not about how to set up your cancellation policy, explain it to patients, and most importantly adhere to it.  If you are interested in my basic thoughts about that you can surf on over to my site for my cancellation policy and download the intake form which has it, as well as email me with questions.

No, today I want us to think about how you show up for your no shows.  Most therapists I know use their no shows to play a game of “catch-up.”  They catch up with notes, catch up with phone calls, catch up with emails, catch up on the news, catch a few ZZZzzzzs in the chair.  Note the progressive nature of the catch-ups:  It goes from things you really should have dedicated time in your week/day for and easily degenerates to self-care before you know it.

I never thought I’d use the phrase degenerates into self-care, but there you have it.  And I say it because on a meta level it is actually not self-care in the long run. Ok, I have times during the week, a few 90 minute blocks that I have built in to have my “catch-ups.”  And if I get all my work stuff finished in the first 30 minutes, which I usually do, I go on to some self-care extras, like a walk on the Charles River near my office, surfing the net, reading on my Kindle or a quick nap.  But these are extras, I schedule self-care time in my week regularly, even color-coding it on my Outlook calendar so I have dedicated times for that.  So if you have your self-care scheduled, and you have your “catch-ups,” scheduled, that leaves your no shows.

No shows are used for me as additional times to work on my ongoing projects to build my business beyond the office.  They include:

  • Blog posts like this one
  • Research for my newsletter
  • Writing a syllabus to propose to teach at the colleges I teach
  • Writing a workshop application for CEUs
  • Videotaping a webinar or short web feature to post on my blog or site
  • Tweeting some of my required Tweeting (I try to Tweet 4 times a day, 2 original tweets, 2 retweets of quality content from others)
  • Surfing Technorati or Mashable to keep abreast of recent developments in the blogosphere
  • Designing some Freebies I give away to promote a webinar or workshop
  • Creating a workshop for helping therapists deal with managed care
  • Test-driving new (or new to me) online games like Everquest, Aion, or Civilization V
  • Checking out new apps for the iPhone or iPad

Those are all things I have done in the past month or so when I have a no-show.  They allow me to continue to work on the overall business plan I have and get me started on projects that I used to complain I had no time for.  I don’t waste time seething that I’m losing money or call a colleague to complain.  From the business perspective, the only negative in a no show is the “no” at the beginning of that phrase.  As Bettye LaVette would say, I’ve got my own Hell to raise.

How about you?  How do you show up for your no shows?