It’s Best To Say “No” To Some New Referrals



E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Original Copyright © 2014

It’s not always wise to accept every new referral. Some patients may not be appropriate for your practice. Rather than automatically schedule everyone who contacts you, take care to assess callers’ needs and expectations.

  • Make Time for Pre-Intake Screening

It’s not up to referral sources to do your screening for you, so be sure you’re doing your own. You may have front office staff handle initial contacts for you but, like it or not, pre-intake assessments are clinical judgments and remain your responsibility. At a minimum, specify “red flag” indicators for your staff that trigger your need to conduct further screening yourself so that you’re sure that you’re the best practitioner for this patient. It will cost you more time and effort later to manage and transfer a case that is not a good fit for you, so make time now to do adequate screening. It certainly is not in the best interests of the patient to accept such referrals.

  • Don’t Try to Help Everyone

Though it’s flattering that everyone wants your help, stay within your area of expertise. And know your limitations even within your scope of practice. You may be interested in a range of clinical issues, but until you have sufficient education and training to evaluate and treat these issues, you are not qualified to accept these referrals. “Learning as you go” at the patient’s expense is not acceptable, so don’t fall into this trap. And, when certain types of referrals become “trendy” and lucrative, don’t be tempted by dollar signs. Get the training you need to practice competently and ethically.

  • Refer to Colleagues as Necessary

When you determine that someone needs a different type of care than you can provide, refer to a colleague. Keep current with others’ practice specialties and stay up on the treatment facilities in your area so you can make appropriate referrals.

As your reputation grows, expect to receive referrals from many different sources. No matter how experienced you are, you won’t have the skills to help them all, so put screening practices in place that enable you to know when to refer on to others.

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About the Author:

Dr. E. Carol Webster is a clinical psychologist consultant in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
She is author of the book for those dealing with the stress of success ―
Success Management: How to Get to the Top and Keep Your Sanity Once You Get There,

The Fear of Success: Stop It From Stopping You! ―
the book to help you overcome fears that may be holding you back in your life and career
The Private Practice of Clinical Psychology in: Voices of Historical & Contemporary Black American Pioneers
To contact Dr. Webster visit online at or call 954.797.9766.

E. Carol Webster, Ph.D.
Clinical Psychology Consulting
Mailing Address: 7027 West Broward Boulevard, #262  Fort Lauderdale, FL 33317

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