Making psychotherapy referrals to skilled colleagues, was previously published in Dr. Lynn Friedman’s blog for her Johns Hopkins graduate students

You are networking. You offer workshops or you’re on the programming committee of your local organization. And/or you have a website. And, people are starting to call you and they are asking if they can see you. However, you haven’t yet established a practice. Maybe you are not yet licensed or perhaps you are committed to other endeavors and you are just laying the groundwork at this point.

So, you have to tell the prospective patient that you are not taking referrals at this time. You can say something like, “I am not yet taking referrals and I do not anticipate doing so until (the date) or until some time in the next several months”. However, if you can tell me a bit about what you are seeking, I will try my best to give you the names of skilled clinicians in the area. And, if you’d like, I’d be happy to call ahead and streamline the process for you. Then, call the clinician and ask them if they have any openings. In this way, you have helped to patient to avoid another rejection. I say, “another” because to the unconscious, the fact that you are unavailable will be experienced as a rejection, albeit it is an inadvertent one.

As for finding referral sources by now you should know these names because you have done some investigation and you have identified the local talent. They are in your study group, or they have spoken at your workshops, etc. Also, be sure to create a list of places and people with sliding scale fees for those patients who are seeking that.

One more thing to consider: Be sure to refer to skilled and qualified people as your reputation is on the line. If you refer to highly trained, competent and HELPFUL people, you will be seen as knowledgeable.

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