Why I Don't Hold Waitlists
I don't hold waitlists for ethical reasons. If I cannot see a new client within a couple of weeks or so, I refer them to someone in my professional network. We might be in solo practice but we can't work in a solo way. Of course there will be some people who want to work with a particular therapist and are prepared to wait. I am talking about those who are simply seeking some psychological help and support. Why hold onto clients with a waitlist when they can be seen in a more timely manner by someone else? There are many narratives around this question that centre around wider social problems as well as the vulnerabilities of the therapist and their preparedness to look after them or not.
The most common therapist vulnerabilities are to do with the uncertainties of having a small business. You have to carry a lot, especially related to financial and ego vulnerabilities. Waitlists can be used to assure the therapist of income and they can be used to assure the therapist's ego that they are in demand and doing well. Waitlists can be used as part of a marketing strategy to sell practices. The dominant narrative is rather clingy based on an imagined poverty that there isn't enough for everyone. I think that it is important for our work how much we are complicit in these narratives and to hold our own vulnerabilities to allow others to be free and independent.
Waitlists also stop us thinking about the wider question of the mental health epidemic and the distribution of responsibility. So much of what is legitimised as a mental health problem is in fact a huge societal problem of people being viewed in a depersonalised way and the lack of support, opportunities, and protections for the public. Calling the lack of societal responsibilities a mental health problem is one way to silence and ignore public care to enable a few powerful people to continue to have unlimited rights to what they want.