It’s Monday morning and you sit down to your laptop. First up on your agenda, checking emails.

Click, click, and ugh. 15 emails!

You open the first one and it’s a literal book. A potential client referred to you by one of your favorite referral sources is writing to you about their high anxiety child.

They share details on what their child is going through and open up about the pain they are experiencing as a parent seeing their kid struggle.

In addition, they list about ten questions about your services. Questions ranging from “so I see you don’t take insurance, how do superbills work?” to “what’s your professional experience?”

They finish up the email with a specific request around you sharing more information on if, “you’ve successfully helped anxious children like mine before?”

Your heart goes out to them.

They are in need of empathy. In need of being seen and heard.

They also make specific requests for clarity around your service and how you can help.

You take a deep breath, stretch your fingers, and start typing back.

  • You practice active listening acknowledging the things they shared around what their kid is experiencing
  • You reflect some of their own experience as the parent back to them
  • You answer every question they have about your services
  • You copy and paste part of your website’s about page that explains your experience
  • You do a bit of research and include helpful links where relevant (E.g., how superbills work and who to talk to in their insurance about it)

And after 35 minutes of typing, you’ve completed the email reply.

You click send.

That’s one email down, 14 more to go. You cross your fingers that the next emails won’t take up so much time.

There’s No Requirement To Start Therapy Services Before A First Session

It’s normal to feel like someone else writing you a long email means you have to write a long email back.

Like if someone is trusting you with their information, taking the time to type it out to you, AND asking for your help then “I should address everything they shared” or “a few sentences won’t show that I care.”

And as a helping professional, it’s too easy to get caught up in what others need.

Or to think that if you don’t meet their needs, and fast, that you’ll appear like a bad therapist who doesn’t care.

But let’s pause and reflect around what you need too.

Is there a chance that your long emails are crossing the line from doing appropriate amounts of empathetic sales communications to providing therapy for free? That writing such long emails doesn’t meet your needs for freedom, space, or efficacy in your practice and in your life?

Good sales does include empathy but that empathy shouldn’t be unconstrained. Especially if it infringes on what you need.

Business-wise, it also doesn’t make sense to spend 35 minutes on an email with a potential client who may not move forward with services or one who will move forward and would be more than happy to compensate you for that time in the context of a first session.

You’re not required to start your therapy service with someone before they are in a session with you. And in fact, there’s no business-basis for doing so.

So although empathy is required in both marketing and sales, at some point, providing empathy can cross into providing free therapy services. Things like, extended amounts of active listening, reflecting, and giving out resources – these are all easily beyond what needs to go into a sales process for your sales to be empathetically effective.

Recommended business boundary: stop working for free. Instead, take the time to determine what makes sense as an amount of time and energy to spend on email and how to authentically show up in them.

Short, Boundaried Email Replies Work

The great news too is that on the side of the potential clients – you can show compassion and do effective sales without writing for 10, 20, or 30 minutes or more.

It is very effective to keep emails brief, express boundaries, and offer up ways that you can effectively meet their needs. And do so in a way that respects both sides of the relationship.

Here’s how:

Steal These Templates: Email Replies For Therapists That Show Compassion And Save Time

Email reply template #1: summarize and encourage a free call
Why it works: the important stuff gets acknowledged and the opportunity to get things addressed further is offered

Dear Parent,

Thank you for reaching out. Love that Susan Smith M.D. referred you my way.

I read over your email and really appreciate all that you shared. It sounds like a lot is going on with your kid’s anxiety and it sounds like for you, as a parent, it’s really a challenge to witness.

I want you to know that many parents in your position feel heartbroken and lost on what to do. I hear you.

I am available to discuss how I can help in more detail during a free 15 minute call. During the call, you can share what’s going on, ask me anything, and we can explore how I can be of service. Would be also able to answer any of your questions around topics like superbills or my previous experience in cases like yours at that time as well.

How does that sound? You can schedule your free call in my scheduler

Let me know if you have any questions at all. I’m here for you. 


Email reply template #2: express boundaries
Why it works: be clear on what works for you and how it is still fully meeting their needs as well

Dear Parent,

Thank you for reaching out. Love that Susan Smith M.D. referred you my way.

You shared so much important stuff in your email. Sounds like you’re feeling overwhelmed and you kid is too.

Would you like to speak about it during a free 15 minute phone or zoom call? I think it will be easier to get a sense of what you’re going through and how I can help on a call rather than through email. I can answer your questions about my service at that time as well.

If that sounds good, you can schedule your free call in my scheduler.

Let me know if you have any questions at all. I’m here for you.


IMPORTANT: both of these replies could also encourage clients to schedule a first session. You are not required to do a free consultation call as your first step into your practice. <3

Boundaries Are Compassionate

“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” – Brene Brown

And for therapists, boundaries also keep their tanks full so they can fully show up and do great work with their clients.

Boundaries don’t only apply to things like telling your sister that you don’t appreciate her unannounced visits. Boundaries are a good idea in business too.

If you spend a long time writing emails and are feeling drained or resentful, that’s a sure sign that a boundary may be needed. If you’re not yet feeling drained or resentful, it may still make sense to protect yourself from getting their by overspending your time an energy.

In addition to taking inspiration from the above examples, what if you set a time limit? For example, “I’ll spend 8 minutes maximum per email. If an email is taking longer than that, I’ll have a phrase I can use to encourage them to do a free call or a first session to address all of their concerns.”

And if you’re not yet experiencing the problem of having too many emails to reply to, consider improving your website with client-attractive words. A clear, compassionate website can increase the number of potential clients reaching out so you’ll need to write quick replies like the ones above. To get this good problem of too many client inquiry emails, we’re here to help!