How to introduce Choice?

What we actually say to services users when we first meet them can be a neglected area of service development. We forget how new it is to them and how many assumptions we make and don’t explain. We feel it’s helpful for a team to agree a set of phrases or ideas that should be communicated. Not as restrictive as a specific script but more a set of guideline phrases or ideas.


It’s important to make the person feel welcome and active and to set a clear context for the session. This can be done from the very first moments they have contact with your service e.g. in the explanation the referrer gives them about you, in the letter inviting them to book in and in the leaflet you have sent. The aim is to emphasise that they have some choice in what they want and that the work is a partnership between us and them, not a one-way street. Your language should reflect this where possible e.g. ‘work together’ not ‘treat’, ‘help you choose’ not ‘tell you’ and ‘share our thoughts’ not ‘give an opinion’ .

Helpful Phrases

Here are some phrases that clinicians have used:


  • How did you find filling out the questionnaires?
  • Did you find our information leaflet helpful?
  • Do you know what we do?

Setting the Scene

  • Hear your story
  • We’d like to hear from you what you are struggling with
  • Like to hear what brought you here, your hopes and think about the way forward
  • It’s not our job to tell you what to do but share ideas about what might be helpful

Explaining what will happen

  • We are going to meet for about an hour. At the end we will put our heads together to come up with a plan for a way forward
  • We hope that by the end of today we’ll have a plan about what happens next and what help you might want
  • These might be things you can do, another agency can help with or we can help
  • Think together about what you might want
  • To be as clear as we can about what it is you want to get from coming here
  • Come to a joint understanding

Next steps

  • We choose a clinician with the right skills to help you meet you goals
  • This clinician probably won’t be me
  • Call it Partnership work because we work in partnership with you to support you to reach your goals

An example introduction

“Hi I’m David XXX. I’m a XXX. We call today a Choice appointment. It is a one-off appointment and the aim is for us to meet together and by the end make a choice with you about what you think will be helpful. Some people find that today’s appointment is enough to get them back on track and that they don’t want another appointment [people nod in agreement here] or we might find that you really need another agency or service and we’ll help you get in contact with them or we might decide together that coming back to this service is the best idea. If you do decide to come back we will think with you about the goals you want and choose a clinician that has the right skills to meet these goals [people nod in agreement here too]. Then at the end of this appointment I will go and find our Partnership diary and book you in for that clinician so you will leave with the next appointment booked”.

Then explain about confidentiality and that you will summarise the issues in writing and send this to them, their referrer and others that are relevant.