No one wants to waste their time, and let’s face it, those copays add up, so I decided to distribute this article to help you get the most out of your counseling. As a therapist, I love helping clients get better. Some of the changes I’ve witnessed have been simply amazing and I consider myself fortunate to have played a part in a person completely altering their lives for the better. Because I want all of my clients to be able to experience this type of change, I asked myself, why is it that some clients improve so quickly and dramatically while others linger in therapy for years without making any real improvements? Was it something special about the nature of these clients in particular?
As it turns out, the characteristics that make someone an “ideal” client are quite simple and anyone can implement them. I’ve found that just sharing this information with my clients has caused all my clients overall to improve. Please continue reading if you too would also like to get faster and better results in counseling:
- You make your appointments a priority. If you’ve ever tried to learn a new skill or get in shape at the gym, you know that consistency is key. Frequently cancelling and rescheduling appointments are going to hinder or prevent progress in therapy. It is the reason why I terminate counseling if missed appointments become excessive. The clients that get better the fastest come to every appointment without exception. I had a client in the past whose car broke down, so she called a family friend to drive her to her appointment. This client took her sessions seriously and became one of my success stories. When you make appointments a priority, wonderful things start to happen.
- You are willing to take risks and try new things. Anytime you learn new skills, it feels strange and unnatural. If you hired a coach to help you improve your golf game, the way he teaches you to hold the club would probably feel “wrong” at first but with practice it would become second nature and improve your game. I’m practiced in teaching skills and techniques that are going to feel weird at first, but trust me, with practice they will eventually become second nature and you won’t even think about them. But what I need from you is a willingness to at least try the skills I teach you. My ideal client shows a curiosity and an eagerness to try new things and follow through with recommendations outside of the office.
- You take responsibility for your mental
If you went to a doctor’s office and when the doctor asked “So what brings you here today?” and you just shrugged your shoulders, naturally you would leave the office without having received any care. The same is true for when you visit the therapy office. Ideal clients come prepared to each session with an agenda of issues they would like to have addressed by the therapist in that session. Ideal clients make notes (either mental notes or in writing) of the improving or worsening of symptoms between sessions. Ideal clients have clear goals of what they would like to achieve in therapy, and actively work on those goals.
- You give direct and honest feedback. The more feedback I get from you about what is working and what isn’t working, the more I can tailor my services to be more effective. I never want you to be afraid of hurting my feelings. I value honest feedback from my clients. It allows me to do my job better and it allows services to be made more effective to you so that you get better faster.
Adapted by permission from Marina Williams, MA, LMHC