Psycho-Babble Psychology Thread 768703

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phone call policies

Posted by redhouse on July 10, 2007, at 10:40:24

i was just curious if you all reading who have discussed the topic of phone contact with your Ts might mind sharing what kind of access/agreements you have come to with your T. i'm having some struggles over what's appropriate, where the limits are, and my T's not being very clear, despite my repeated attempts to get clarity -- one of those i'll let you know when you cross the line the kind of things. (the problem with that of course is that one doesn't know where the line is until it's crossed!)

so, how accessible/available is your T and what do you consider to be too much? after hours? weekends? how promptly do you usually get a call back?

thanks for those willing to share...


Re: phone call policies

Posted by LadyBug on July 10, 2007, at 11:46:23

In reply to phone call policies, posted by redhouse on July 10, 2007, at 10:40:24

I've been seeing my T for over 10 years. At times I've called her and left a voice mail every day. At times I go a week and never call at all. It depends on how I'm doing or what I'm struggling with. She's told me several times that I can call as often as I need to and she's happy to return my calls. When she returns my calls I allow her to leave a voice mail as well so it takes her less time for the call. On weekends, she's not real consistant on returning any calls as she doesn't check her voice mail very often.
I try to be respectful of her time and energy. I don't call unless I feel I really need to let her know something. I do know one thing, she would rather me leave a short and to the point voice mail rather than a lengthy one.
Every T is different. My T doesn't allow e-mail, some do. If I had a need and called my T at home she'd be fine with it. BUT, it would have to be like an emergency before I'd do that. Or I can call her cell phone for the same reason.
Everytime I leave her office, I want to call and give her my feelings about our visit. If I took advantage of doing this, I'm sure she wouldn't respond to me or she would draw a boundary not to allow me to call in between appointments.
Calls are something we've talked about and have an aggreement with. It can go through changes at times. We agree to respond to each other's calls out of respect.
I'm just glad I have the T I have, she works with what works for both of us.


Re: phone call policies

Posted by Maria01 on July 10, 2007, at 12:06:18

In reply to phone call policies, posted by redhouse on July 10, 2007, at 10:40:24

My ex-T's outgoing message stated when she would pick up calls, M-S, and if it were a clinical emergency to call 911 or go to the ER. Depending ono her mood, she was wonderful about returning calls. I would always let her know on my voice mail to her if the matter was urgent or not, out of respect for her time and energy.

My new T's phone policies/etiquette are well laid-out as well. Anytime on the phone with her in excess of 15 minutes will be billed at the normal hourly fee, and she is great about returning calls. Like with my ex-T, I always state on the voice mail whether or not the matter is urgent.


Re: phone call policies redhouse

Posted by Dinah on July 10, 2007, at 17:17:42

In reply to phone call policies, posted by redhouse on July 10, 2007, at 10:40:24

My therapist swears he would rather I call him than get all upset. But admittedly, he knows I don't call him excessively per his own boundaries.

At first, he was rather short on the phone, and he's still not really good at it. But after I determined that he felt he let phone privileges get out of hand with some clients, and reassured him that I was willing to pay for calls of any length, he started trying to be more open to calls.

I usually don't call him after six, or before 8:30. But twice I've called him very late with real life problems that I needed support for, and he was very very helpful.

I think it helps to clarify it with your own therapist, since call policies vary so widely. When you do ask about it, it might be helpful to clarify if you're willing to pay for out of session contact of any length.


Re: phone call policies

Posted by red house on July 10, 2007, at 17:41:38

In reply to Re: phone call policies redhouse, posted by Dinah on July 10, 2007, at 17:17:42

thank you all for sharing your experiences with phone calls/how your therapist handles it. i think mine's just a little too green to have been burned yet by phone calls and so maybe doesn't know where her limits are given that she's been so vague. guess i'll learn by doing and risk crossing the magic line. it does seem like it's highly individualized.



Re: phone call policies

Posted by Maria01 on July 10, 2007, at 18:16:50

In reply to Re: phone call policies, posted by red house on July 10, 2007, at 17:41:38

It might help to let her know that you are concerned about crossing that line, and so you would like a clearer idea as to what her phone policies are. After all, it wouldn't be fair to you to have her get upset (if you were to cross that line) for something she should have been clearer on. If she still waffles, politely ask her again, and let her know that you want to respect her time/boundaries.

It could save a lot of aggravation/miscommunications in the long run.
Every good T should have their phone policy outlined either in writing on their intake forms, or discuss it with you early on so you'll know the deal when you do call them. The last thing you would need is for her to get huffy with you for inadvertently crossing that line. It happened with a T I worked with a long time ago; that was one of the factors that lead me to stop working with her.


Re: phone call policies redhouse

Posted by OzLand on July 10, 2007, at 18:22:42

In reply to phone call policies, posted by redhouse on July 10, 2007, at 10:40:24

I rarely called my ex-therapist. I think I called him maybe four times in two years. He never charged for leaving him a message or talking to him on the phone, but right before I dumped him, all of a sudden out of know where he charged me (without notice) $80 for a 30 second phone message and $80 for an emergency phone call. It was right after I stopped ECT, and I had called the ECT doc too.

I asked my current therapist, and he said he doesn't charge unless it gets excessive--phone calls or emails. I have never called him. I hate talking on the phone and I can't see him and fantasy is he is making faces. I know that is not true, but I have emailed him of late due to some crises stuff in my life and our not being able to have all our sessions. He has told me to go ahead with this, but if it interferred with my "talking" in therapy, then he would change things I think. Right now he would just want to wonder why it was easier and then we would have to explore my fantasy of him making faces. Well I guess I now have something to bring up tomorrow when I see him.

Long and short, I had to ask the new one. I have no idea what the old therapist would have said up front about phone calls and emails.


Re: phone call policies

Posted by Maria01 on July 10, 2007, at 18:31:06

In reply to Re: phone call policies redhouse, posted by OzLand on July 10, 2007, at 18:22:42

What your ex-T did was awful. Good thing you dumped him!


Re: phone call policies

Posted by peddidle on July 10, 2007, at 19:04:32

In reply to phone call policies, posted by redhouse on July 10, 2007, at 10:40:24

There have been a couple of sessions when my T could tell I was really worried about becoming excessively anxious about an exam or something the next day. Each time, she's said to call her if I was really freaked out, but she kind of said it as an after-thought. I've only called her at her office one time when she specifically gave me the number and told me to call. She didn't answer, but I also called about 40min late, so I left her a voicemail. There was one other time recently when she asked if I still had her office number and to call if I needed to talk to her (or if I needed her to talk to me). For me, though, I think not calling has to do with some kind of social anxiety-- even though I've known her for a while, the idea of talking to her on the phone seems weird, so email is better for me. She actually encourages me to email her, and thanks me when I do. I just remembered there was one other time I called her: she responded to an email and said that she wanted to help me with something, but didn't want to do it over email.

If your T said that she would let you know when you've crossed the "line", then I think it means she's at least open to phone calls, when necessary, and realizes that you may need her contact her between sessions. My advice is if you think you need to call, call.


Re: phone call policies redhouse

Posted by Poet on July 10, 2007, at 20:11:42

In reply to phone call policies, posted by redhouse on July 10, 2007, at 10:40:24

Hi Redhouse,

My T is very accessible by phone. She uses her home phone number as her office number and in the first session she told me *call me anytime you need me, but I won't answer in the middle of the night.*

I feel guilty calling her, but she's never said I'm being a pest. I've called her weekends and left her a frantic message while she was on vacation and she called back within a day. I felt guilty about leaving her a message while she was gone, but I was having a major meltdown and didn't want to talk to some stranger who was on call for her.

My T is really great about phone calls. Emails, too. Though she never talks/writes much, she would rather see me in person. It's more like a quick crisis relief until my next session or an emergency session. Talk about guilt, I hate having her squeeze me in.



Re: phone call policies Maria01

Posted by OzLand on July 10, 2007, at 22:04:44

In reply to Re: phone call policies, posted by Maria01 on July 10, 2007, at 18:31:06

yes; I saw him for two years and trusted him, and he was the reason I did ECT, the reason both due to getting worse and due to for him as he wanted me to do it. He got angry with me after ECT and when I complained about my memory problems.

Related to this, recently I found out that the ECT doc fooled me into thinking he really cared about me when he did not care that much either. I learned from the records that he only talked to me every day to keep me in the hospital so I would continue with the ECT. I also read the discharge summary from the resident, and it was obscene how inaccurate it was and full of major errors. I sent a letter to the doctor who is head of the inpatient unit and to the ECT doc. He said I can get it revised if I want. I think maybe I do, even though it would be a cold day in hell before I ever step foot in or near the psychiatry department of this hospital, inpatient or outpatient. I trusted these people, and they manipulated me.

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