deserve my feedback!), but about what I actually put in my reviews.... AND its also had me considering how writing a service review could actually be a useful process of therapy for the therapy client and certainly how it might help others even if they don't use my service!
Many people can be quick to complain and can use reviews as a place to vent their frustrations and discontent... unfortunately I occasionally see complaints made on social media platforms about some local businesses, but I often wonder how quick are those same people to feedback a positive experience? To be fair we are all busy and taking the time to sit down and write a review isn't always our top priority! Especially when its gone well - we just move on to the next thing we're dealing with. Yet often we have had really good service and not shared that for others who also may benefit.
So we know that no reviews doesn't necessarily mean a service isn't worth looking at but then does a service with lots of 5 star ratings actually mean they're really good? We'd hope so, although some sceptics might think they might have just been voted for by friends and family!!! ....who may think we're marvelous but also may be somewhat biased!
How complex finding the right service can sometimes be!
What We Really Want....
When looking for any service I want to feel confident that it's going to be the right one for me. When I buy a new pair of jeans, I look at the picture/see them on someone else/see them in the shop, I know the size (roughly!), the colour-ways, leg cut etc, I can try them on, I can feel/see the quality before completing the purchase or returning them if they're not what I want. A service just isn't that straight forward - once the decorator has been in and 'painted' the carpet it's not quite so simple to "just return it" but ranting about it on social media or in a review isn't going to resolve it either nor does it necessarily reflect fully that there had for instance, been an accident involving the cat and the paint pot and that the carpet was professionally cleaned free of charge.
Everyone's needs are different (and while I'm guessing none of us really want paint on our carpet there are other aspects of a service that we might have differing requirements/expectations of). Having an insight in to what another person found useful about a service can help you decide what might work for you.
What I would really like to see when I'm looking for a service is genuine examples of how and why it was helpful not just that it was. Whilst I don't want to find myself coughing up for something that turns out to be a bit dodgy etc I don't really like to just see non-constructive, negative comments either... they also lead me to wonder how balanced ARE the reviews I'm seeing anyway when I KNOW I'm guilty of not taking the time to write reviews myself? That's why personal reviews with a bit of detail about exactly what was good about the service are far more useful for my decision making.
Encouraging others that they're not alone AND that there is hope......
Reviews can be particularly helpful to future potential therapy clients. Of course it's better still when the feedback comes from someone they know and trust! I'm not saying a therapy service is more important than any other service but therapy is incredibly personal; trusting someone with your innermost feelings and thoughts, sharing things about yourself that you've perhaps not even shared with anyone else before can be really anxiety provoking - sometimes a new client may worry about "What the therapist will think?", "Am I going to be able to say what I feel", "Will I be understood", "Is this going to really help" etc
Hearing from others about what it was that they found useful from a therapy service can give a prospective client useful insight and
1. Help them toward their decision to get help (knowing you're not alone can be such a relief and hearing from others that it can change brings hope!).
2. Help them decide if the therapist might be the right person for them and whether they might provide the best therapy approach for them.
I know that one therapist and one therapy doesn't fit all and you certainly won't find me just "throwing a therapy at the problem" so this is why it is still important to have the discussion with the Therapist before going ahead and booking your appointment. I always like to talk to people directly about what they're looking for in therapy; it gives me the chance to be open about what I can and can't do and for the individual to get a sense of what I might be like to work with.
But even if the person decides a particular therapy service isn't for them the importance of seeing that it is possible to get benefit from therapy is likely to encourage them to continue the search for the right therapist for them.
Whats is in it for you?!
Reviewing your own therapy progress can be a really important part of the process and is something I often formally do with clients as they're coming to the end of therapy, this is especially important when making change and empowers the individual with their new understanding and tools for life. Understanding what you have learnt about yourself and your problems, what was useful in therapy and how you are going to take that forward can help you to maintain that progress. A simple reflection of what the key things that were useful in therapy, completed as a review for the service, not only helps the service provider and others looking for help but also has a benefit for the client..... Reflection consolidates learning; the client can feel proud of the change they have seen, boost their confidence that they can carry this forward and reflect on knowing what the service can help with (or what other strategies might be useful) should they find themselves or a friend or family member struggling in the future. Even if the client would still prefer to anonomise their review, the process of writing down some of what was useful in this way can help to cement that for them and to feel good about themselves for achieving that progress.
In addition the act of helping someone else can make us feel good, whether you're helping another person who is looking for help and maybe feeling anxious or uncertain about doing so, or whether its supporting a small business - it's helping others!
If You're Not Happy....
Small businesses can provide amazing, personally tailored services. But any business can get things wrong sometimes. Rather than writing a negative review I prefer to go back to them directly with my concern or criticism - this allows them to learn, to grow, to develop and gives them the opportunity to show me that they really ARE a good service. Even where something has gone a bit wrong, if it's dealt with well, you will feel listened to and valued and that feels good! I've found that most small businesses are incredibly keen to rectify issues that you're not happy with. As a therapist and business woman, I personally value feedback from clients; I will encourage clients from the start to let me know if they feel something isn't helping, if they don't understand something or if they don't feel I'm understanding them well enough. By letting me know we can try and work out what would be the most useful way forward for them.
So Going Back To What Mandie Was Saying....
Local small businesses are part of what makes our community thrive. Supporting them is so important. Complainers are often quick to shout but we're all guilty of not writing those positive reviews! It is really refreshing to see recommendations being made for local businesses on our local FB page occasionally - for one its just nice to see something positive being said but they are also really useful when I'm looking for a service later too! We really should shout about the good stuff more often!!
Consider writing a review for other local businesses - helping others can make you feel good! And it only has to take a few moments of our time to write something while sitting down to have a cuppa, waiting for a bus or travelling on the train!
I'm going to be putting small business reviews on my to-do list more often! Will you?!
Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, Integrative Psychotherapist, Nurse Specialist (Mental Health), Mum, Youth Worker, Trainer.......