Safety Considerations

 

 

Whether you are working from home or in a rental office, you can never be too careful when working with strangers.

 

When you going into business for yourself, you take on all the responsibilities, including your own safety. There is no one else to watch out for you. You must take all the precautions.

 

My students often say that they’re afraid to offend potential clients by not trusting them. To which I reply with: "Would you rather die?"

 

People that don’t have any ill intentions will never question your efforts to keep yourself safe. Do not accept anyone as your client if they try to push your boundaries and dictate their own rules. This is your business, you are the boss, and you get to make rules. Beside, can you really be a value to your clients if you are not able to protect your own boundaries?

 

Here are a few tips that you may find useful:

 

1. Take a full payment up front - with a credit card or PayPal. This way you'll have the real name, and this person will become traceable. This alone may deter some pricks.

 

2. Schedule appointments when it's convenient for you, not for them. Whenever possible, plan your appointments for when other people will be around. Often men target female therapists and will demand that you see them late at night or during the weekend, when most likely there is no one around. People that really need your help will make time!

 

3.  When alone, make it look like there are other people - turn all the lights on; turn music, tv or radio on in the other rooms; state that you have to keep the voice down so you don't disturb other practitioners or your family members... If alone at home and if you have more than one vehicle, make sure that they are all visible.

 

4.  Video record all your sessions. Include that into your intake forms: “For your safety and mine, all sessions are video-recorded.”

 

5.  Keep your window curtains open during your appointments, so it is all visible from outside.

 

6.  Ask your neighbors to look after you. Make up some signal system like leaving the porch light on or hanging a towel from the kitchen window. It may seem like a silly game, but it may save your life.

 

7.  Do equip yourself with pepper spray, stun gun (check your state’s regulations), and keep your car keys near so you can push the panic button if you need...

 

8.  Do listen to your gut feeling when talking on the phone to potential clients. If you feel uneasy while talking on the phone, it will be even more so when you’ll have this person in your room. You can offer a 15 minutes Skype/Zoom consultation if seeing the person will help you to sort through. You can say that it is your way of qualifying the clients before accepting.

 

9.  Having a separate phone number for your business may also be an aid to your personal safety. You can get an app for your phone that will give you a second phone number that you can use solely for your business. This way you won’t have to share your private phone number with strangers. Just go to the app store and search for “second number” or “side phone line.” Some of these apps are free of charge and some have monthly subscription fees. Pay attention to the descriptions – different apps have different features. Some allow only calls; some allow only text messages; some allow both. Some apps will only connect you with the people that use the same app. Find the app that has the option of setting up customized greetings. You can record a greeting for your potential clients that is separate from your personal use number. You will also be able to set up text auto-responders. Mine is directing the callers to my website.

 

There is nothing more respectable and valuable than choosing to dedicate your life to helping others. This World needs you! People need you! You are very important! It is your duty to protect yourself!