How to Communicate with Clients Outside of Sessions

In mental and behavioral health, effective client communication is key. It is key for building trust, ensuring successful treatment, and keeping strong professional relationships. For therapists, counselors, and other mental health practitioners using EHR for therapists or mental health EHR software, off-session communication is a critical component of providing exceptional care.

This guide covers advanced techniques for fostering great client communication. These techniques go beyond regular sessions or appointments. By mastering these strategies, you’ll not only build trust and transparency but also enhance treatment outcomes and client satisfaction.

Understanding the Importance of Off-session Communication

Regularly talking with clients outside of sessions is critical. It’s key to providing great service in mental health. It keeps clients informed and engaged. It also builds trust and transparency. These are key parts of any successful therapeutic relationship.

When clients feel valued and well-informed. They are more likely to stick to their treatment plans and keep seeing you. The clients want to know what to expect from a service provider. This shows the importance of setting clear expectations at the start.

Setting Communication Expectations Early On

Setting clear communication guidelines from the start is crucial. They ensure smooth, efficient work with clients in mental health settings. Setting clear expectations for response times, preferred channels, and update frequency can prevent misunderstandings. It also sets the stage for a good relationship.

One effective approach is to create a comprehensive communication plan that outlines the ground rules for off-session interactions. This plan should be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of each client, taking into account factors such as their preferred communication methods, time zones, and treatment requirements. EHR software for mental health solutions offer tools to help create and manage these communication plans.

Example Communication Guidelines:

  • Response time: Aim to respond to client inquiries within 24 business hours.
  • Primary communication channel: Use email for non-urgent matters and instant messaging for time-sensitive issues.
  • Scheduled check-ins: Provide weekly project updates via video conference or phone call.
  • Emergency contact: Provide a dedicated phone number for urgent matters outside of business hours.

By setting these rules early, you show a commitment to open and clear communication. This sets the stage for a good working relationship.

Choosing the Right Communication Tools

Today, in the digital age, mental health pros have many tools. They use them to talk to clients between sessions. From secure email and HIPAA-compliant messaging to video conferencing and client portals, the options are vast. However, you must select tools that fit your clients’ preferences, treatment needs, and rules.

When evaluating behavioral health EHR systems, consider their communication capabilities and integrations. Many top-rated solutions like psychiatric EHR and EHR for mental health platforms offer secure messaging, video conferencing, and client portals to facilitate seamless off-session communication.

Communication Tool Comparison:

EmailWidely used, creates a written record, allows for detailed communicationCan be slow for urgent matters, prone to cluttered inboxes
Project Management Apps (e.g., Asana, Trello)Centralized task and project tracking, file sharing, and team collaborationLearning curve for some users, potential information overload
Instant Messaging (e.g., Slack, Microsoft Teams)Quick and efficient for real-time communication, mobile-friendlyPotential for informal or unprofessional communication, limited file-sharing capabilities
Video Conferencing (e.g., Zoom, Google Meet)Face-to-face interactions, screen sharing, and recording capabilitiesBandwidth and connectivity issues, scheduling challenges

However, it’s crucial to consider mixing tools. This is to cater to diverse client preferences and project requirements.

Creating a Communication Plan

Creating a clear communication plan is a key step. It ensures consistent and effective off-session interactions with clients in mental health settings. This plan should list the specific touchpoints for communication. It should also list the preferred channels and the processes to be followed during the treatment journey.

A good communication plan in your EHR behavioral health system should cover these key points:

  • Frequency of Updates: Establish a realistic schedule for providing treatment updates, progress reports, and milestone achievements to keep clients informed without overwhelming them with excessive communication.
  • Communication Channels: Specify the primary and secondary communication channels to be used, such as secure messaging, video conferencing, or client portals, based on the nature of the communication and the client’s preferences.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of team members involved in client communication, ensuring that there is no overlap or confusion in terms of who should communicate what information.
  • Documentation and Record-keeping: Outline processes for documenting and securely storing all client communication within your mental health EHR software or behavioral health emr software, including messages, notes, and updates, for future reference and compliance purposes.
  • Escalation Procedures: Establish protocols for escalating urgent or critical issues to the appropriate stakeholders, ensuring timely and effective resolution of potential problems or crises.

You can show commitment to transparency, accountability, and high-quality care. Do this by making a plan for each client’s needs in your mental health EHR system.

Implementing Regular Updates and Check-ins

While having a communication plan is crucial, its successful implementation is what truly drives client satisfaction and positive treatment outcomes. Regular updates and check-ins are key. They keep clients informed and address concerns promptly. They also ensure treatment plans stay on track.

Benefits of Regular Updates and Check-ins:

  • Increased Client Satisfaction: According to a study, regular updates can increase client satisfaction by up to 50%. By keeping clients informed about project progress, challenges, and upcoming milestones. You show your commitment to transparency and accountability.
  • Timely Issue Resolution: Regular check-ins provide an opportunity to address any concerns or potential roadblocks before they escalate into major problems, ensuring that projects remain on schedule and within budget.
  • Strengthened Relationships: Consistent communication fosters a sense of collaboration and partnership, helping to build trust and strengthen the professional relationship between you and your clients.

When doing regular updates and check-ins, you must balance two things. You need to give enough information but avoid overloading people. Consider tailoring the frequency and depth of updates. Do this based on the client’s preferences and the project’s complexity.

Managing Sensitive Information and Confidentiality

In working with clients, you may handle sensitive or confidential information. This can include personal data, financial details, or proprietary information. Securing and protecting this information is key. It’s vital for keeping client trust and professional integrity.

Here are some best practices for managing sensitive information. They are for confidentiality in off-session communication:

  1. Encryption and Secure Channels: Utilize encryption and secure communication channels, such as encrypted email or secure file-sharing platforms, when transmitting sensitive information. Avoid sending confidential data through unsecured channels.
  2. Access Controls: Implement strict access controls to ensure that only authorized personnel can access sensitive client information. Use password protection and role-based permissions to limit access as needed.
  3. Data Storage and Backup: Store client data securely, with regular backups and robust security measures in place. Consider using cloud-based storage solutions with end-to-end encryption and robust data protection policies.

Navigating Challenges in Communication

You can try your best, but even well-planned client relationships can have communication challenges. Challenges come from misunderstandings, technology issues, cultural differences, or differing styles of communication.

Here are some strategies to help navigate these situations effectively:

  • Acknowledge the Issue
  • Seek Clarification
  • Propose Solutions
  • Follow Up
  • Learn and Adapt

Maintaining Professionalism and Etiquette

Off-session communication often uses more informal channels and platforms. But, it’s key to keep a consistent level of professionalism and etiquette. This not only upholds your professional image but also helps to preserve the integrity of the client relationship.

Here are some guidelines for maintaining professionalism and etiquette in off-session communication:

  • Use Proper Greetings and Closings: Even in informal communication channels, such as instant messaging or project management platforms, begin and end conversations with appropriate greetings and closings.
  • Mind Your Tone and Language: Be mindful of your tone and language, avoiding casual or unprofessional language that could be misinterpreted or perceived as disrespectful.
  • Respect Boundaries and Privacy: Avoid initiating off-session communication during non-business hours or on weekends, unless agreed upon or in case of an emergency.
  • Proofread and Double-check: Before sending any communication, proofread for spelling, grammar, and clarity to ensure a professional and polished message.
  • Manage Emotions Carefully: If a communication exchange becomes charged, take a step back and respond once emotions have settled.
  • Be Mindful of Cultural Differences: Respect cultural differences and adjust your communication style, being mindful of potential misunderstandings or unintended offenses.
  • Maintain Confidentiality: Uphold confidentiality by avoiding discussions of sensitive client information in public or unsecured communication channels.


How often should I communicate with clients outside of scheduled sessions?

The frequency of off-session communication should match the client’s needs and project requirements. Aim for a balance between keeping clients informed and avoiding overwhelming them with updates. Regular check-ins, like weekly or bi-weekly updates, are often effective. There is flexibility for more communication during critical project phases.

What should I do if a client is unresponsive to attempts at communication outside of sessions?

If a client is unresponsive outside scheduled sessions, try reaching them through their preferred way to communicate. Also, address any concerns that may be hindering their responsiveness. If necessary, escalate the matter to a supervisor or project manager. Suggest other ways to communicate or change schedules. If needed, have an open talk to find and fix communication barriers.

How can I ensure that my communication with clients outside sessions is both professional and personal?

Balancing professionalism with a personal touch is crucial for effective client communication. Maintain a polished, respectful tone while injecting warmth and empathy into your interactions. Adapt your communication style for cultural differences. Share relevant personal anecdotes or experiences when you should. Answer inquiries quickly. This shows your commitment to meeting client needs and building stronger relationships.


Effective off-session communication with clients is a critical component of professional success, building trust, and fostering long-lasting relationships. Clear communication is important. Set realistic expectations. Choose the right tools. Implement structured communication plans. These steps lay a solid foundation for seamless interactions.

Regular updates, secure information management, and proactive navigation of communication challenges. These things further show your commitment to transparency and client satisfaction. You must continuously ask for and use client feedback. You must stay professional and use technology wisely. This will keep your communication strategies in line with client needs and industry best practices.

Remember, open and transparent communication is the cornerstone of successful client relationships. Implement the strategies in this guide. They will let you set up a communication framework that not only meets but exceeds client expectations. This will foster trust, loyalty, and long-term success.