Summer is waning and many of us have been out of the office for some long overdue respite and self-care.
Last year, I sent one of my colleagues, Christine Garcia, MA, LPC, an email while she was out of the office and, in response, received an email from her autoresponder.
In consideration of her clients’ needs, her own risk management needs, and in the interest of any others who might be trying to reach her, Christine had created an automatic email response that provided notice of her absence as well as information for clients and potential clients who have mental health needs.
Her email was so thorough that I wanted to share it with you and invited her to guest post about it right here.
However, she modestly gave credit to Barbara Sheehan-Zeidler, MA, LPC who originally introduced her to the idea of using an autoresponse but did graciously agree to share the evolution of this email response that she uses today.
(If you are interested in writing a guest post, check out the guidelines here.)
A Guest Post by Christine Garcia, MA, LPC
Responsible for Me
When I plan a vacation or time away from the office to tend to a medical or personal need, I want to get completely away.
It seemed that being able to leave work behind and mentally escape became essential to my self-care as a clinician in private practice.
My clients were amazing-but-intense people with crisis-oriented situations that often put them in harms way.
They were women who were victims of domestic violence and several were involved with Child Protective Services.
I enjoyed working with them but found I needed a mental and emotional break at least once a year to avoid burnout.
In order for me to really let go of worrying about my clients while I was laying on a beach somewhere soaking up a cocktail and some sun, I realized that I needed to be reasonably sure that my clients could get help if they reached out to me while I was away.
Responsible to Them
In fact, I knew it was my responsibility to any client trying to reach me (both current and new clients) to give them information about where to seek help and support during my absence.
Although I would create plans with my current clients before being away from the office, I realized that having additional coverage meant I could better enjoy my time away because I worried less.
So, in addition to getting coverage from a colleague to answer urgent calls or hold a session with a client in crisis, if needed, I also set up an automatic outgoing email that provided helpful information.
My colleague and friend, Barbara Sheehan-Zeidler of Creative and Caring Counseling, LLC took my original message and cleaned it up for her own use.
Her version is better than mine. Just click to download
Do you have experience using email auto-responders?
If so, what has your experience been?
Are there other things that you include in your out-of-office emails?
About the Author: Christine Garcia, MA, LPC has been in private practice in Colorado since 2006. Prior to becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor, Ms. Garcia worked in domestic violence victim services, child adolescent treatment centers, and for Child Protective Services.