Booking “A-Head,” Cancellation-Watching, Headaches and Other Painful Stuff

If you have tried to make appointments with me (Paddy), you will see a busy online calendar. Most of the folk I visit with book several weeks or a couple of months in advance. And, they book 3-5 sequential appointments to make sure that they get the times they wish.

I recommend that couples, families and individuals work to obtain appointments every 2nd week for several months. Booking ahead is the only way this works. This takes planning. It is head-work. Since I only work Mondays and Thursdays (and some other mornings as it suits me), my limited schedule makes it difficult for some to get the time they wish. If you use your head, it should work out okay.

I know that not getting hoped-for appointments is frustrating. I have had a few headaches over this as well. I respect your time and the effort it takes to create these visits. And you do create the visits – I don’t.

Some kindly folk ask, “Why don’t you add a day or so?” I go on and on about my grandchildren and how they need me (etc.), or how old I am and how I like my folding e-bikes. So don’t ask. You will get a sermon.

Did you notice that I don’t have a lovely admin person answering your calls? But the good news is that my online booking pro never sleeps or takes lunch breaks and works on stat holidays. You can book into my schedule at any time of the day or evening that you want. My booking system will never get mad at you. You can also cancel appointments without guilt (but give me 48 hours or time to replace the hour) and reschedule around your exercise class.

Here is some stuff you need to know to make working with me a bit easier, therefore, fewer headaches for both of us.

#1 Book online for the first appointment you can get, and then book a bunch later (say 3 or 4) when time works on my calendar and your schedule. By the way, it is a lot easier to cancel or reschedule than it is to book – you do this through the emails you receive from my booking machine.

#2 Book “a-head.” If you need crisis counselling (urgent care within a couple of days) you will need to contact a crisis care line or Family Services. I used to supervise at a crisis line in Coquitlam and was a therapist with Family Services in West and North Van, and they are great. But for me, plan ahead. (Now read #3.)

#3 Now that I have said all this about crises and urgencies, you can ask if I can make an exception for you (you ask by email rather than phoning). For these urgent times, I prioritize families I am already seeing, not newbies. But whatever your circumstance, email me and I will do my best to refer or guide your next steps.

#4 Watch for cancellations once a day and especially on weekends when most people reschedule. Today is a Monday and I have had 3 cancellations for the coming week and 2 have been filled. So I had an extra hour that was visible on my calendar. Go ahead and grab it.

#5 If you cancel without giving me 48 hours notice, or if I cannot fill the time, 2 things will happen. You will get charged for the missed time (sorry), and somebody else misses their chance for the spot. This is where headaches happen. I ponder and ruminate and then send an invoice. Shoot! I hate to do this. But I do. Then you get pissed off and start dissing me. I hate that too.

Finally, my “book a-head” photo tells you that I am on holiday — you can tell by what I am reading including “Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire”.

Back to vacating. See you soon.

[This was first written in 2017 and has been updated.]

[You can respond to this blog or anything else you see on my web site by emailing life@theducklows.ca.]

10/10 — A Sanity Prescription

Ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes in the evening. This is a sanity prescription. 10 minutes talking to yourself, journaling your thoughts, praying or pondering before you get on with the busyness of your day.

Works well in your marriage too. 10 minutes of face-to-face conversation at (say) 7 am and 10 pm. In the morning, sharing your emotional geography as you anticipate your day. And in the evening, catching up your partner on your thoughts and experiences for the hours in between. Researchers tell us that “great couples” have at least 20 minutes of conversational intimacy every day. And in a month, you have enjoyed 4200 minutes (7 hours) of intimacy. More than many couples have in 5 years.

By the way, doing 20/20 is usually way too much. Keep it brief and important.

Here is what you can do in your 10/10. Try an ancient Ignatian discernment practice: consolations and desolations.  If you want to dump the Catholic part, call it roses and thorns. Either way, look at the events that are opportunities (consolations) for growth and wisdom and those interruptions (desolations) that make your worry and ruminate.

This is sanity. It is about thinking rather than ruminating; planning rather than obsessing; creating intimacy rather than avoiding and hiding.

Opening the Office Door: The Ducks In-Person and In-Office

By the middle of summer, we should be opening our doors to in-person counselling. Good news for those tired of staring at computer monitors (like me)! And for those who like the convenience and lack of commute, we are still offering counselling via Doxy and Zoom. Two more open doors!

If you decide at any time that you would feel safer or prefer to meet online, then we shall do that. Reimbursement for telehealth counselling with extended health insurance has not been a problem; however, if your insurance plan disallows a claim you will be responsible for payment.

Here is some info already published on our website that will orient you to our care for you during the pandemic. There are a few other blogs published on the topic as well.

If you wish to meet in person, there are a few cautions to understand and ideas to respond to.

• You will only keep your in-person appointment if you are symptom-free. If you are feeling unwell, please cancel as quickly as you are able. No fee will be assessed for cancelled fees related to sickness. Still, give us 48 hours if you can.

• If you have any symptoms of the coronavirus (self-check), I trust that we can meet online — rebooking can be difficult for you and for me.

• Please wait in your car or outside the office door (enjoy the bench) until you are called/texted/emailed to come inside for our appointment.

• We will provide hand sanitizer when you enter the office.

• Bring your own coffee mug if you wish our Nespresso. Mmm.

• Please bring your own mask if you wish, or if you feel therapy in any way compromises social distancing.

• Please keep a distance of 6 feet or so — no need to bring a noodle; we can approximate. And, sorry to say, no hugs, handshakes or high-5s. Waves and bows work too.

• Please do not bring children or infants to therapy at this time.

• Please take whatever steps you can between appointments to minimize your exposure to covid.

• If you have work that exposes you to other people who are infected, please cancel your appointment and replace it with online therapy. Again, give us as much time as you can.

• If a resident of your home tests positive for the infection, let me know and we continue with online appointments.

All this goes both ways. If Carole or I or anyone in our home or family bubble has covid symptoms, we will contact you as quickly as we can. Then we will discuss other possibilities including using online and screens. If there should be a resurgence of the virus, we will notify you and return to online therapy.

As you can see, we are taking your health seriously. And we are doing it for us too. We want to be able to visit with our grandchildren on our non-workdays and we sure don’t want them infected.

We look forward to working with you.

Paddy and Carole

Counselling / Consulting Services: Times and Costs

We do not have a “flat” rate for our counselling / consulting services. Mine (Paddy) is more complicated, so I will outline my times and costs first.

  1. My basic rate is $180 per 60-minute hour. This is the cost on my regular counselling days, Mondays and Thursdays. The recommended College of Psychologist’s rate is $225 per hour and this is usually a 50-minute hour. (My rate has not increased in 8 years.)
  2. My off-time rate is $225 per 60-minute hour or the recommended rate of the College. I allow a few sessions on my non-regular-counselling-days where appropriate or necessary. This is at my discretion.
  3. I offer a 9-11 am (2 hour) appointment on some Friday mornings due to urgency or crisis. This time is often taken by out-of-towners who are visiting the Vancouver area (during non-Covid-19 weeks). The rate for this block is $450 (or 2 x $225).
  4. My group consultation rate is higher than the above. It works out to $750-1000 per block (a 2-4-hour block of time). This is offered to organizations but sometimes extended families as well. Again, non-Covid-19 weeks though I have done this on Zoom as well.

When you book an appointment, the times and costs are specified on vCita.

Carole’s rate is $165 per 60-minute hour, on her workdays (Tuesdays and Wednesdays) or other times as agreed. She works this out with you as she does not use vCita. Contact Carole at carole@theducklows.ca.

We offer subsidized fees for those who do not have insurance coverage and have financial need. We call it Thirds because we reduce our fee a third, ask the client to pay for a third and invite an organization (e.g. church or social service agency, as examples) to pay a third. You can read about this here. Note: we do not subsidize fees where an insurance company is involved. And, we do not offer Thirds for group consultation or off-time rates.

During Covid-19 we are promoting our Thirds program for those with less income and reduced employment. We are also sensitive to the anxiety of families during this pandemic time and we are responsive to requests for an adjustment of times and costs.

Regarding fees generally, please see “Counselling Can Be Expensive.”

We do not have a “flat” rate for our work because we are attempting to charge proportionately to your needs and financial ability.

If you have any questions at all, please let me know — paddy@theducklows.ca. Thanks.