Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is as important for the human service industry as it is for other industries. In our sector, the resources are human factors more than material goods. I would like to address “how” we are moving towards a more sustainable model for counselling and service provision within our organisation and community.
Psychologists and mental health professionals frequently study for in excess of 6 years. Resources provided by universities, government funding for tertiary teaching and resources that are provided to train psychologists, social workers, counsellors and psychiatrists are expensive. Within our Psychology Centre we have more than 50 staff, including administration staff and practitioners. This means that we have more than 200 years of education completed by our team.
This intellectual resource is not usually available to the public unless you book an appointment. Many psychologists do not practice in their full range of expertise because of the abstract nature of our intellectual expertise. Our organisation promotes psychologists to promote their intellectual knowledge via our website. We have many websites so that we provide our local and international community with a resource that is free and designed to alleviate human suffering.
In our centre, we work together and share our knowledge with each other. This means that psychologists can easily access others’ expert knowledge without an expensive and time-consuming tertiary course.
In small clinics with less than a dozen practitioners, it isn’t possible to access the breadth of knowledge needed by the average psychologist: such as expertise in counselling treatments, health conditions, assessment, changing consumer needs, business, legal and administration issues.
Future sustainability: In the future will be moving to increase our sustainability goals by opening new sister clinics, increasing the diversity and range of psychologists and expertise available, and providing our community with a more extensive range of services. This saves you – the consumer – time by having a “one-stop shop”. When our consumers are in crisis, having one place to find help can be life saving! This is one reason we provide our free emotional health check up for new clients.
Psychologists and mental health practitioners work differently to most other service providers. Psychologists in our clinic choose when they work, how many hours they work and eventually which clinic they work in. They are only limited by room availability and when consumers prefer to visit. We are open 12 hours a day, 7 days a week – that means appointments are available in the evenings, and on Saturday AND Sunday – to meet the needs of staff and consumers.
Burnout is a concern for our consumers – but even more so for our practitioners. The average psychologist in our clinic works full time with about 3 days a week of client contact. We find that seeing more than 24 clients a week is not productive.
Empathy is one of the core components our service. In order to be emotionally available to our clients, we cannot work 5 days a week. We have 8 rooms open 12 hours a day and 7 days week. Psychologists can work in the morning, afternoon or evening with their room used by others when they are away. By sharing 8 rooms with 30+ psychologists, the costs of practice are divided with with other practitioners. Most psychology companies only open week days and having about 12-15 psychologists sharing the same space.
The benefits to the consumer are many. Our psychologists are free to work when and how they want which means they are a lot less likely to burn out. They can take leave as needed and return to work because their business is viable given the amount of sharing in our centre and our business support service.
If you want a different type of therapy, then our psychologists don’t feel that they are competing against others for business. Therefore you can choose to see another therapist without it having an impact on the “business” side of your psychologist’s business.
At the point of writing this article I’m not aware of another psychology centre where the contract that binds the psychologist states that the clinic does not own the client. Psychology clinics typically prevent clients from seeing that psychologist if they practice elsewhere. Not us! YOU as the client, own yourself. See your psychologist as often as you need and we do not impose requirements on return visits like other clinics. We believe that a problem solved quickly is a better kind of service than one that takes a long time. This impacts the way our business operates, but we overcome this by sharing resources.
Future sustainability: In the future we will improve our resources, training, support and locations to psychologists. Our psychology apprentices are an innovative and new development that provides extra support to our practitioners. Apprentices work in most industries and support the highly trained and skilled consultant. Apprentices learn from the best and assist with providing cost effective business services, which empower the consultant to reach the community.
Psychologists use few material resources but these still contribute to the overall burden on our planet. These include air conditioning, printing, books and travel.
In our clinic we promote shared resources by providing a professional library and sourcing efficient commercial printers. Air conditioning is minimised as we share the same room. As director I do not have an office in my business because that is a waste of space and I’d rather see psychologists use that space to do training in an internship.
We are located near public transport so that consumers and practitioners can take the bus to work. Working outside business hours means that consumers and practitioners can drive to work during off-peak hours. This can halve the amount of time spent in traffic and the amount of fuel expended on travelling to our centre.
We use the most sustainable form of advertising, being digital marketing. We don’t advertise in papers, nor printed medium. We have moved to online appointment booking so that we don’t waste paid staff hours. The more often consumers can book themselves into an appointment, the more efficient our service will become. It is more important that we spend time providing online resources that address human need, than just provide a booking service.
Future sustainability: In our centre we will be sourcing supplies from companies that have sustainable policies. Australian suppliers like Fuji Xerox have used innovation to provide better than original products though reusing printer components. We will continue to use online marketing in preference to printed advertising. It is in our best interests to promote and invest in Australian technologies and better ways of doing things.
In my role as the entrepreneurial innovator for our psychology centres, I seek to efficiently take hold of new technologies where possible. I am available to local businesses as a consultant to provide sensible, cost saving methods that promote sustainability in your business.
Sustainability is not just about environmental factors. I am particularly keen to see technology create a sustainable and emotionally healthy community. I want competition to be driven by sustainable practices that build healthier and happier communities.
Cutting edge sustainable practices are likely to the new holy grail of this century. How do we see into the future and see what our clients will want? If we don’t engage new ideas then businesses fail because they don’t think about the future. So stop for a minute and think about the future. Will you be the one that changes things so others will follow, or will you follow the pack?
Author: Vivian Jarrett, B Psych (hons), AMAPS, MAICD.
To book Vivian please call 1800 877 924 or book online.