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Reaching Out to Inactive Clients

What I want to stress importance on first is that clients disengage for many reasons including transference, fit with therapist, finances, life stresses and transitions, and many more reasons, and reaching out to them after such a long period of time can be very evocative and may bring up more issues then originally intended. Or, they may be in a different place and find it as a boundary violation they weren’t seeking out. So…I would handle each case with care to see if it is appropriate.

If you do determine there are some you would like to contact…make sure it is a phone call and not a letter. A short message which doesn’t break confidentiality should be fine. You don’t know who has access to his/her phone now, what transitions have occurred since treatment, what state the client is in, how the message will be received, etc.

What feels more clean to me is to have a regular policy where you clean-up your caseload monthly. So…when a client starts to disengage you can handle it in a boundaried way where there are no questions. Even if it is someone who just stops coming and you play phone tag with, never seeming to have a conversation, messages could be left to keep a solid container around the work. Try and make it clear to the client that after a certain amount of time from the last treatment date, the file will be closed and you will not contact the client again. Reassure the client that you are just a phone call away should he/she want to reach out for treatment again. This way, it is a clear ending, both parties understand there is an end date to the treatment, but that you are there should he/she need you.
What does everyone else do? I would love to hear more suggestions and what people have found works.

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