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The Easy Referral: A Collaborative Strategy Supporting Clients in Four Steps

November 13, 2016

There is so much I do in how I work, I take it for granted others do similarly. Apparently though, my practices are different or others simply haven’t caught on with how to be most helpful to the people we serve.

One of the ways I guess I am different is by making myself as available as possible.

Whenever I am not with a client and during business hours, I answer my phone. I realize this sometimes floors the caller. The caller is not expecting to reach me directly. They are expecting to reach an administrative assistant, who in my case is my wife, or alternately they expect an answering machine and they hope to leave a message.

This is not to say my wife doesn’t answer the phone or that some people don’t get my answering machine, but wherever possible, people get me.

The other thing I do differently is that I invite professionals to call me with their client present when considering a referral. The professional is seeking to make the referral yet their client may not appreciate the value of what I can provide and there may be concerns about costs. By calling with client(s) present or scheduling this kind of phone call, we can demystify what I can do and how it may be helpful and at what cost.

This really came to my attention during a meeting with my Collaborative colleagues the past few days when one commented how she appreciated being able to phone me with her client(s) present to facilitate referrals. She is quite apt to just pick up the phone during a 4-way meeting, saying to those in the meeting that rather than guessing what I can do, let’s ask him.

Again, assuming I am not with a client, I pick up the phone directly and we carry on that very discussion. This is an incredibly powerful way to support clients in the service process.

I do this too. Case in point and to put another spin on this, is when I am confronted with the disclosure of what may be a child protection issue and I am in a bind as to whether or not the matter is reportable to a child protection agency. Rather than guess, I explain my dilemma to the client and advise I will call the child protection agency and begin with a non-disclosing consultation. I will speak with an intake worker without giving the clients’ names and tell the worker we are on speakerphone with them present. I will describe the nature of the situation and ask if the worker feels the need to investigate further. We will discuss the worker’s process and what the agency can offer to support the client whether or not further investigation is necessary. If further contact is necessary, it is the client who then tells the worker their names and address. This is an amazing approach to supporting parents through what could otherwise be a frightening process.

I have come to call this The Easy Referral. I am not trade marking this approach or name by any means. I can only hope other professionals take up this practice in an effort to better support their clients. This is particularly helpful when clients are vulnerable, concerned and having little understanding of the different professional players, what we offer and how we can be of value at different times in their lives for different needs.

We get so much more done and help our clients better when we the professionals work together. The Easy Referral can make that happen:

  1. Pick up the phone with your client’s present;
  2. Call the person you want to refer to;
  3. Discuss the value of the service;
  4. Make the referral assuming appropriate.

Yes. It really is that easy and by the way, clients can introduce this process to their service professional.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker. Check out all my services and then call me if you need help with a personal issue, mental health concern, child behavior or relationship issue. I am available in person and by Skype.

If you found this blog of service, please share it with the links below.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

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