Doula Interviewing Safety
Denise Bolds – Bold Doula
September 27, 2015
With so many new doulas entering into the field, social media is buzzing with incidents around doula safety in an interview. Unfortunately, much is assumed; there are no workshops, articles or blogs in the mainstream communication highway about this topic – Bold Doula is jumping in!
As an MSW social worker, I am trained in the skill of interviewing as well as observing signs when an interview imposes upon safety. Recently, I attended business training for doulas, the facilitator commented on the interview process: “I can’t do a doula interview in a coffee shop or library! I just can’t get into my groove!” My thoughts went to the many doulas she excluded in her innocuous statement. The facilitator went on to say, she has clients come to her office, if they want her services; she feels clients can come to her, Monday through Friday.
That all sounds good and that may be, but tell me facilitator; where does that leave me? Many doulas do not have the luxury of having a freestanding office. Many doulas live in suburban to rural areas that are spread out geographically. Many doulas cannot afford the overhead a freestanding office, with the expense of utilities. I have an office, in my home. I do not invite prospective clients to my home, my sanctuary, my turf to conduct a doula interview. Most if not all of my interviews are done in public venues such as Panera, Barnes & Nobles, Starbucks, public libraries, community centers and mall food courts, etc. Many prospective clients request that I meet them at their home. There is nothing wrong with meeting your potential clients were they are, so long as you practice safety.
My business is one of a sole proprietor; I am always on my grind, securing clients. What I’m not is desperate; I am careful and watchful of the doula interview in the home of the prospective client. Here are a few tips:
· Interviews that are initiated by the male partner calling. If I cannot or do not speak with the prospective mother-to-be, the interview ain’t happening!
· Any interview after 7:30 PM. I make sure to call and make sure the appointment is confirmed.
· I try to show up a few minutes early and park nearby. I observe the area/block of the address of the interview for at least 10 minutes.
· When I arrive at the home and the mother-to-be is not there, I will wait 15 minutes in my car, after that, I am leaving.
· I am mindful of weekend appointments, I completely understand the need for them – I try to make them as early as possible.
· In the home I bring my own water bottle and I use the restroom prior to arriving at the address of the interview.
· I also request that any large dogs be contained before I enter the home.
· Do not carry cash on you. Be mindful of flashy jewelry, dress business casual with low-heeled shoes in case you have to run. Do not let your clothing be a factor in hindering you in case you are attacked or confronted.
· Leave major credit cards at home as well as your checkbook. Lock them in your car if you must take them with you.
· When you are in the house, please notice where the exits are.
· Try to sit so that you are able to see the front door or nearest exit.
· Ask if there is anyone else attending the interview.
· The ‘doula scarf’ I see TONS of doulas wear as a tribute to rebozo or whatever it is – It is a method to grab you in a chokehold during an attack. I suggest leaving the scarf in your car until after the interview.
· Big red flag: any weapons or drug paraphernalia out in plain sight; it’s time to leave – immediately.
I am able to engage with the client in their home, on their turf knowing they are comfortable and trust me enough to invite me. In public areas, I am also very comfortable and I remind my prospective clients that we are conversing in a public area and to be mindful of the volume of our conversation. Once a working relationship is established with the prospective client is now a contract paid client, a professional relationship can be built – along with establishing trust and boundaries.
It is crucial in our hectic, busy lives as doulas during these home interviews, you have a point person whom you keep in constant communication with; you let that person know where you are and for how long. You also call in with that person when you are back in your car safely leaving the completed interview.
I know doulas are to uphold confidentiality. If you are involved in a situation that sounds like something you are reading here, please share your experience with peer doulas in either a meeting, smartphone communication or social media inbox messaging – there are ways to withhold information of identification that will maintain confidentiality and still advise other doulas in the area of a potential unsafe encounter, or a known predator.
If you truly believe in yourself and what you are doing as a doula, you will be able to promote and interview yourself and your services well no matter where you are! Please practice safety! Now, go and sign that client!