The Psychiatrist's Office

Copyright 1994 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.

This is based on a study I read in the paper. This one just didn't come together very well.

I recently read about a study on how effective psychiatric care was. They took a bunch of folks and had them go see a psychiatrist and do the usual psychiatric-type stuff. Then they took another bunch of folks and had them sit in the waiting room for the same period of time. What they found was that folks who sat around the waiting room of a psychiatrist's office showed just as much improvement as those who actually went in to see the psychiatrist.

This study gave me a great idea for a new business. If waiting for the psychiatrist is just as beneficial as seeing a psychiatrist, why not eliminate the middle man? Get rid of the psychiatrist and just leave the waiting room!

All I have to do is rent an office, go to a couple of garage sales to pick up some old magazines and open "The Psychiatrist's Office." People would make appointments to come in and sit in the waiting room for an hour, once a week, and then go home. If they were having an especially stressful week, I could probably squeeze them in for a second visit.

I'd need to hire a receptionist to keep track of who's supposed to be waiting and who's waiting to be waiting. But I wouldn't need to have an actual psychiatrist anywhere on the premises.

My customers would be happy, because they'd be showing just as much improvement as if they were paying some psychiatrist $140 an hour to listen to them yammer away about all their problems. Since I wouldn't need to pay for an actual psychiatrist, I could charge them less (say $70 an hour), and I could have more than one person at a time waiting.

I also wouldn't have to worry about lawsuits and liability. Who's going to sue me over a waiting room? "I developed a severe emotional trauma after reading an old copy of National Geographic."

The receptionist would enforce strict rules about talking, since out-of-work psychiatrists would probably sneak in and try to help my customers. The receptionist might even be responsible for screening customers to make sure they weren't psychiatrists. (I could do this by asking sneaky questions, like "How do you feel about your mother?" and if the answer was longer than a sentence, I'd know I had a psychiatrist on my hands.)

There is, of course, the problem of what to do with people who show up early.

A customer walks up to the receptionist and says, "I have a two o'clock appointment."

The receptionist consults her appointment book to verify the customer's appointment, and then notices the time, "I'm sorry sir, but it's only ten minutes before two." I'd definitely want to hire a receptionist with a cold stare. ("Wanted: Receptionist. Must have good cold stare." And I'd hire the first person who intimidated me when I asked them for their name.)

"Well, I know I'm early, but could I wait here until it's time to wait?"

"Absolutely not! We have a schedule to keep! You'll just have to wait somewhere else until it's time to wait here." This customer is not going to put one over on my receptionist!

Maybe I could have a waiting room for my waiting room, but I'm afraid that people would discover they could get just as much benefit sitting in a waiting room waiting to get into a waiting room, and so they'd just hang around the waiting room's waiting room instead of paying to sit in the waiting room.

There would also be a problem with people going to the wrong waiting room and waiting.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but you're not supposed to be in the waiting room, yet."

"I'm sorry! I thought this was the waiting room."

"It is the waiting room, but you should be in the waiting room's waiting room, not the waiting room."

Better yet—if people show up early for their appointment for the waiting room, they would have to go in and see a psychiatrist until it was time for them to wait. That'd teach them to show up early!

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Copyright 1994 by Robert L. Gidley. All rights reserved.