It must be very frustrating not to receive a response from a therapist who is clearly advertising their services on a website of professionals offering services to those in need. You would expect some kind of response or acknowledgement of your contact.
There are I'm sure, many reasons why therapists don't respond to an enquiry. It could be that they are taking a holiday, which is often the case during the summer or around December, and holidays can last several weeks.
It maybe that the therapist is ill, has been involved in an accident or is unexpectedly in hospital which prevents them from responding.
Clearly this is not an ideal situation and, if a therapist knows they are going to be unavailable, it would be considered ethical practice to ensure there are appropriate messages (out of office or voicemail) to inform prospective clients when they can be reached or you can expect a reply.
It would also be helpful for therapists to put notices on their websites and advertisements, letting prospective clients know that they have no spaces or are unavailable until a certain date. But this doesn’t always happen, perhaps because although therapists are professional, they're human too.
When looking for a therapist it's important to try and see someone who you think you will gel with. Personalities can play an important part within the therapeutic relationship, which is why it's probably a good idea to try and see or speak with two or three therapists, or more, before deciding who you'll start therapy with. That way, if you don't get a response, or they've no spaces available or are unsuitable in some way, you can try someone else. It's not an easy process once you've made the decision to seek therapy but worth the time. There's more guidance in our document Introduction to Counselling and Psychotherapy (pdf).
Unfortunately, you can't submit a complaint about a BACP member therapist through our Professional Conduct procedure unless you've received a service. But it may help to inform the therapist, by letter or email, about your disappointment at their lack of response and the impact this has had on you - so that they may learn from the situation.
BACP is reminding its members about ensuring people that come to them for help or therapy receive an appropriate response. We're also adding new features to our Therapist Directory so they can show when they are out of the office or unable to accept new clients. It may only be a small minority of our membership, but one unhappy and distressed prospective client is more than there should be.
Get help with counselling concerns service
Our Get help with counselling concerns service provides help, guidance, and information, about what to do if you have any concerns about your therapy or your therapist.
Anything you say is confidential and you can speak with us anonymously if you prefer.
We're available from Monday to Thursday 9.30am to 4pm. Calls are limited to a maximum of 30 minutes.
At other times or, if you have difficulty accessing the service by telephone, please leave us a voicemail or email us and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
You can contact us by:
- telephone on 01455 883300 option 2, 07811 762114 or 07811 762256
- email at email@example.com
Please note on the 2nd 3rd 9th and 10th November due to staff availability we won't be able to respond on those days.
Find out more on our Get help for counselling concerns web page.