When clients don’t turn up (it’s not you! Probably…)


There’s only one thing harder than when clients turn up and you have to ‘do’ the therapy you’re training to be better at, and that’s when clients down turn up.

They say pride goes before a fall; at Christmas, I was congratulating myself that I hadn’t yet had any ‘did not attends’ (DNAs). In the first week of january, all my clients except one DNAed. Lesson learnt.

I actually learnt two lessons there. One of my potential clients was coming from somewhere where they had access to a support worker and the appointment had been made through the support worker. It was the support worker who cancelled, using they words ‘they refuse to come’. My first reaction was to be cross – the word ‘refuse’ set me on edge. And then I sat down and thought about it, and it occurred to me that in many ways, MOST DNAs are essentially where a client ‘refuses’ to come. Sure, there will be ‘genuine’ reasons why people don’t come (or let you know, but that’s a different post), but for some people, some of the time, they have just decided that they aren’t coming that week – they can’t face leaving the house, or an hour of therapy. If that’s not a ‘refusal’, I don’t know what is.

My second lesson learnt was ‘clients will DNA and you can’t know in advance when that will happen. Go prepared’, and now, I make sure I have a book, or something to read, so that if my early client DNAs, I have something to occupy me until me late client arrives (or DNAs, in which case, I get to go home early).

Also, that clients will, invariably, not turn up. Either because they forgot, or something has come up, or because they’ve decided that they’re sorted and don’t want to ‘waste your time’ any longer, or, as happened the week of new year, a combination of all of those.

IT’S NOT YOU. Probably.  I thought it was me. This link suggests that 20-57% of clients don’t turn up after the first appointment. That figure for me is currently 10%, and that around 40% of clients only attend twice. So far for me that’s about 20%, so I think I’m above the odds here. It’s worth bearing in mind these figures. They help you feel better!

What to do if a client doesn’t turn up?

The first time this happened I was all ‘I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO!’ (the joys of starting and running my own placement – no advisor on hand and no format in advance). Luckily, I was mid-text-based conversation with a couple of trainee friends, and one of them advised that her procedure was to give the client 10-15 minutes and then call them in the session time, which is what I now do on all occasions. It’s getting less scary each time, I’m happy to report.

How do you deal with DNAs?

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