Some Tips on Staying Safe from our readers

The safety of mental health professionals continued...

I just got back from Ireland last night so I’m a little behind on things like the blog. The picture for this post isn’t really related to the subject of this blog post, I just think it is funny that they have Guinness-branded potato chips (“crisps”) in the vending machine there. This is a picture I took in Temple Bar in Dublin.

On June 17th I wrote a post about the Safety of Mental Health Professionals (you can read that here).

Some psychologists, who I’ve decided to keep anonymous, sent me some tips/thoughts on staying safe. Here is a selection of some of them for you (if I didn’t feature your comment I apologize I seem to have “misplaced” a few of the emails accidentally while trying to clean up my inbox after my Ireland trip):

Here are tips from psychologist A:

1. Make sure your chair is closer to the door than the client’s
2. Don’t have heavy objects on your desk or within easy reach of the client to throw or club you with.
3. Learn Krav Maga for self-defense
4. Make sure other people are in the office when you see patients who have potential for violence.
5. Don’t see intoxicated patients or re-schedule them if they arrive intoxicated. (Have them call a friend or relative to take them home.)

Here are tips from psychologist B:
Stay calm. Neither push nor give ground. Keep the person talking. Be alert for any psychological leverage that may be available. That’s about all that’s possible under some circumstances. I once was confronted in an empty parking lot by an explosive client brandishing a leather cutting tool. The satisfaction of having talked him down seems to have outweighed any post traumatic effect. Ain’t no guarantees, though. So it’s a good idea to come to terms with the fact that you may be one of the unlucky ones.

Here are tips from psychologist C:
The most obvious and basic thing I would recommend is not having a presence on social media. I realize many psychologists would not make this choice as they believe it might hurt their online presence and possibly lessen their exposure to potential clients; however I have had no problems getting referrals thru my website. As a single female in private practice it is important to me to keep my private life private and out of the hands of my clients. Years ago when I did have a presence on social media I did not see a problem until one of my clients wanted to friend me. I shut it down and have not missed it since.

another thing I would recommend is getting to know your office mates and who might be in the bldg at the same time you are. Also screening new clts carefully and not being afraid to tell someone you don’t think you can work w/them (of course tactfully and with a legitimate reason) and having referral sources handy. Prevention is always far easier than getting over your head w/someone w/a severe personality or psychotic disorder which you thought you could handle in the beginning.

What do you think? Feel free to send your responses to my email and I will collect them and periodically share them with a new post here on the blog; I think it is a very important topic.