Email Sessions: The Nitty-Gritty

From my Important Info page:

EmailThis is my preferred method, because it has the benefit that only one of us (me) has to be free at the appointment time. If I am derailed by life in general, I can still fit the session in at my first opportunity without having to put clients through the trouble of rescheduling. You will send me your list of questions or concerns and a photo of your animal(s), and I will schedule the session at my next available time spot. Many clients, especially those at long distances, choose this method for the freedom of not having to have a free spot in their schedule and for the fact that they get a typed transcript of the session. The only drawback is that there is no immediate back-and-forth to adjust the session for clarification. Therefore, I do offer a free brief follow-up to cover anything that the animal has relayed through the original session that is not perfectly clear. Please note that a follow-up is not to ascertain new information, but to clarify information originally relayed.

Although this sounds pretty straightforward, occasionally new clients are still confused about how the email sessions work. I often hear from folks who think they must be available at the time I’m talking to their animals, or that an “email session” means we will be emailing back and forth in real-time as I do the session. It’s much simpler than that.

The pet parent will simply let me know they want a session, and I’ll respond that I have openings coming up. Then, as soon as they send the email containing the questions and concerns they have for their animal friends, and a photo or photos, I will give them my next open availability. It’s also perfectly fine for the client to simply send me their list of questions and photos as the first contact for a session; many people who have used my services for a while, and who already know how the process works, will do this and save a step.

I used to let people know a set time for email sessions, but due to life circumstances, I no longer am able to do this. Instead, I will do the session when things are optimal for me. I find time that will be uninterrupted, and when I can give the session my full attention. I will then relay the information back and forth with the animal, type up my notes, and send them back to the owner. I then give the client a chance to look through the notes, decide if anything shared by the pet needs clarifying, and ask for a free follow-up if it’s needed.

The follow-up is not to ascertain new information, but simply to clarify anything already shared that might be confusing in some way. This is why I ask clients to think about their questions beforehand, and try to cover all important questions or concerns up front.

The questions included in the session email should be as specific as necessary. Keep in mind that asking very general questions usually results in more generic answers. If a pet is having a specific problem, having an image in my mind of what I’m looking for will help me to find it. It’s also important that the owner not deliberately try to hide information, “just to see what I get.” The energy created by deliberately obscuring the situation will do just that … it will cloud what I can receive from the animal. Remember that your pet does not know me, and most of us (humans, too) will simply answer “fine” if a total stranger asks “How are you doing,” even if they aren’t exactly feeling fine. In contrast, “Your human tells me they think you may be feeling pain; can you tell me where it’s hurting and what it feels like?” will be much more likely to generate a helpful response from the animal.

People often ask me if it’s okay to share the notes once they are received. Absolutely: once I send the notes to the pet’s human, they belong to that person, and they may do as they wish with the information. If sharing them with others, such as a veterinarian or trainer or family member, is in the best interest of the animal, I am pleased that the notes can continue to be helpful. Of course, the emailed notes can be saved, referred to repeatedly, and printed out as needed.

I request a photo because it helps me to connect with an animal if I have a visual image in my mind. I’m often asked if the picture has to be current. No, that is not necessary, though if the pet is an adult, I like to at least see an adult photo. Some pets look very different once they are fully grown than they do as babies. One criteria where photos are concerned is that I like to be able to see the animal’s eyes. He or she doesn’t have to be staring straight into the camera, but I find I connect more quickly to the pet if I can see their eyes in a photo. (Yes, one eye is fine, in the case of a profile image.) In addition, if I already have received photos of an animal, I often keep them in a file, so it’s not necessary to send a new picture every time I speak to the pet again (unless, of course, you just love sharing pictures of your animals). One exception would be if my only photo is of the pet as a puppy or kitten, and the animal is now fully grown. If I can’t find a picture, I will ask for another.

Email sessions have turned out to be the best option for me, and most of my clients realize they are best for them as well. I do realize that some people simply like to talk on the phone; I am sorry that this is not currently working out as an option. I hope this post has helped to illustrate how the email sessions work, and shown some of the benefits of this method. I had one long-time (twenty years) client tell me, not long ago, that they have printed copies, in ring binders, of every session I’ve ever done with their pets. As pets have passed away over the years, their printed conversations with me have become a source of comfort.

That brought me a smile through heart-touched tears.