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Starting a practice

The art of the voicemail script

Illustration of a smart phone, on a red watercolor background.

Your voicemail should extend the same warmth and professionalism you convey in person — while ensuring the same privacy and confidentiality someone expects from a therapy session.

In an ideal world, your clients would feel heard and helped each time they reach out to you — and that includes when you can’t answer the phone right away.

Like your practice’s website, Psychology Today profile, or your email auto-reply message, your voicemail should extend the same warmth and professionalism you convey in person — while ensuring the same privacy and confidentiality someone expects from a therapy session.

While a therapist voicemail script should include a few key components, it’s easier than you think to create and record yours. Read on for our advice about how to get started.

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What to include in your therapist voicemail script

A therapist’s voicemail script should be warm, professional, and to the point. You can find a template to use below, or create your own voicemail with the following components.

First, identify yourself to confirm your caller has reached the right place. Tell your caller their message is confidential, if you’re using a confidential voicemail service. Then instruct your caller about what to do if they’re in an emergency situation, such as experiencing thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation.

Next, provide next steps for the caller. Ask for your caller’s contact information and message, so you know what they need when you return their call. If pertinent, you can direct your caller to your website or to email you to book a consultation or appointment.

It may help to notify your caller about how quickly you return calls, so they know what to expect — for example, if it normally takes you two business days to return calls, be clear about that. End the call warmly, affirming you’re looking forward to connecting with the caller soon.

How long should a voicemail greeting be?

As with any voicemail greeting, your therapist voicemail should contain all the important information necessary to leave a useful message. Most voicemails have time limits, so try to be succinct in your greeting. Get right to the point, aiming for about 20 or 30 seconds at most.

Things to keep in mind while you record

Following a few steps can help to ensure your voicemail extends the same level of professionalism as meeting with you in person.

Before you hit the record button, practice your script. You can even use your phone’s voice memo app to play it back before you record (and make any necessary tweaks to your script). Consider asking a colleague to provide feedback if you want.

While you record, hold your phone or microphone close to your mouth so your caller can hear you clearly. Be sure to record in a quiet place without background noise or echo (you can test this prior to recording). Listen back, and be willing to re-record if you don’t like what you hear or made a mistake.

Lastly, be patient with yourself! Don’t try to record between sessions, when you’re rushed or stressed. Instead, allot yourself dedicated time — maybe 20 or 30 minutes — to write and record a script that sounds calm and confident.

Voicemail script for a solo therapist in private practice

Looking for inspiration to get started? Try out a variation of the below voicemail greeting:

Hello, you've reached the confidential voicemail of [therapist's name] at [practice name]. Thank you for calling.

If this is an urgent matter or you're experiencing a crisis, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.

Please leave your name, phone number, and a brief message, and I will get back to you within [amount of time]. I look forward to connecting with you. Thank you, and take care.

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