We talk a lot around here about adopting a “smooth, secure” way of texting with clients. We even provide a handy resource for finding secure texting apps. But many therapists find it difficult to get clients to actually use those apps. So here we will provide 3 vital tips for getting clients on board.
Before we provide those tips, though, here’s an important piece of info:
A significant predictor of clients’ willingness to enthusiastically use tech tools is the therapist’s expressed attitude towards those tools.
So with that in mind, here we go!
1) Get Confident (Or At Least Fake It Convincingly)
In addition to showing enthusiasm towards your secure app, it helps a ton to be competent with it. Many tech guidelines from professional associations and licensing boards will say the same — be competent with your tools.
But what is “competence” in this case? Can we can quantify what that means?
We (the Person Centered Tech team) believe that a pretty reliable measure of sufficient competence is: can you help another person set it up and use its most basic features?
In other words, if you know it well enough to help your clients use it with you and stay safe, then you’re probably competent enough.
So, make sure you know your secure app well enough to help a client use it to engage in simple conversations with you. Many therapists get competent with new tools by practicing with colleagues, friends, and family members. Why not try it out yourself?
2) Get Excited (Or, Once Again, Fake It Well)
Often when therapists introduce a secure app, they do so tentatively. It may get presented as “an alternative,” “an option,” or even “a thing we have to use.”
These secure tech tools are usually new to the client. No matter how great they are, the client still has to get over the motivational hump of using a new thing. Presenting it tentatively tells them, “this thing isn’t all that important or my therapist would be more confident about it.” When the tech doesn’t seem important, getting up the motivation to adopt it won’t seem important, either.
Present it to clients as an aspect of your Communications Policy. (Do you need a sample Communications Policy? Our newsletter subscribers can download ours for free. Click here to go get yours.) When it is made a part of your office policy, the secure app becomes “how we do things here.” It is more than just a potential option.
3) Get Attuned (Best Not Fake This One)
Okay, it’s truth time. Some clients just won’t adopt a secure texting or email app. Maybe they don’t own a smartphone (that’s often a prerequisite for this stuff.) Maybe they don’t know their password to the app store. Maybe they have a cognitive difficulty that doesn’t work well with digital tech.
Maybe they’re cantankerous and it just won’t fit their style. That happens, too.
Whatever the reason, you do need to be confident and state your policies clearly. But you also need to attune to what works for clients.
However, this means that you need to be prepared with an alternative way of communicating with this client that doesn’t throw their privacy and security out the window. Make sure your backup methods of communicating are done with intention, done planfully, and keep you ethical and legal while keeping the client safe.
However you manage it, getting a smooth and secure way of texting (or maybe emailing) with clients can be a good move. Enjoy!