.....Also they have a lot more to lose having you in their home than you do being in their home.
My screening/vetting process has evolved over time,I always send an initial email, then text or speak on the phone, originally I met everyone in a public place prior to scheduling a session as I work out of my home. Sometimes it was a scheduling nightmare but it certainly provides more insight. I'd also face time if they couldn't meet in person. Sometimes it's just email, text and phone call. Now I decide after speaking on the phone if either the client or I would feel more comfortable meeting in person first.
I don't do lunch or dinner, just a 15 min meetup at Panera or Starbucks works fine. Do what you feel safe with, different areas and communities have different degrees of risk. I also make sure they know someone will be present in the home during the session, for their safety and mine. If I don't meet in person I ask for picture id before releasing my address the day before the appt. I need to know who to open my door to.
I rarely go into a session immediately after meeting, just schedule it. I do not charge for the 15 min "consultation/screening" as that is my investment to determine if I can take them as a client. It's working well for me.
While I understand and accept the need to meet in public first, I'm comfy after text/phone/Skype sessions. Everyone has their own level of comfort and while I'm more than willing to help someone feel comfy, jumping thru too many hoops would make ME feel uncomfy.
But who am I to turn down a free lunch? ^_^
I plan on doing the same as I do meeting someone on a dating site. After a couple of messages, I want to speak to them on the phone. Then at least one Skype call so I can see that their face matches the profile photo. Any time someone resists phone or Skype calls, something is up. After one Skype, I'll know if I want to meet in person. If this is too many hoops for someone, that's fine with me. It's my safety that's at issue, and if he doesn't want to make me feel safe, I will pass.
To me if someone wants too much info too quickly that is a bad sign to me thinking iy might be a phishing scam. So I think balance is key. Be careful about giving out too much personal info. But i totally agree about public meetings first
I ask for public meet first. We hang out, talk, get to know one another a little and then we both know if we are "clicking". If we click, great!, then we schedule a real session. If we don't click for whatever reason then we usually part ways on friendly terms like real adults.