I’m wondering how to approach a new client. She is interested in EFT, but says that she is only willing to give her issue two sessions, maybe three, tops, since she has been in therapy for years. She says she doesn’t want to start any long-term therapy. I saw her this last Friday for the first time, and we only talked (and when I say “we” talked I mean she only talked). You talk about multiple issues? This is the queen. I have a session with her next Friday. I don’t even know where to start. If this were your client, where would you start?
photo by John Brian Silverio
Sometimes, with clients and in our own lives, we are presented with a very neat and clean issue to work with, having very defined aspects and very easy entry points. Other times issues are so intertwined, you don’t know where to begin. This is because as humans we are complicated complete systems.
In a general sense here are a few things I keep in mind when working with clients where everything is coming up at once.
1) Manage expectations.
Before we start I talk about the reasons people often have their issues and the type of work that brings healing. Sometimes this healing happens quickly; other times the healing takes a little longer. I explain at the beginning there is no way we can tell the outcome we are about to have. I share many past examples to show how slowly or quickly progress can happen.
2) Keep detailed records of the progress we have made.
When there are many issues it is very easy to think more about new pains that rise up than about the healing that has preceded it. For example, my head hurts and my back is hurting. We do work on my head, which stops hurting, and all I can think of is my back. Now I’ll say how bad my back is. I‘ve forgotten my head ever hurt.
When a client gets frustrated that they are not making progress because all they can feel is the present pain, I remind them of the progress we’ve made. I bring out my notes and say, “When we started you were dealing with this, this and this. In two sessions this is the progress we’ve made.”
One client I work with regularly has to be reminded of her progress every three or four sessions. Sometimes I need to remind myself of my own progress, too.
3) Knock an issue all the way out before you move on to the next.
If you start with issue A, finish it off before moving on to issue B. If you don’t, neither you nor your client will feel satisfied because nothing has been completed.
There is an exception to this rule. If you are working on something small and something much larger and more emotional comes up, you want to resolve the bigger issue first.
4) You are not meant to work with everyone who walks through your door.
It is a very different thing for doctors who by law are required to provide medical care. They are expected to treat everyone who comes through their door. Most people who are doing EFT are paraprofessionals. Even though we are helping people to access the healing powers they already have, we fall much more into the coaching than the medical category.
This gives you the right to decide a client is not for you. If you expect the client to be more trouble than he or she is worth, encourage the client to find help somewhere else. This is not say that you don’t want to help, but you won’t be a good fit for everyone who walks through your door. You will serve your clients better when you work with the clients who are the best fit for you.
I have had clients come to me just looking for one more person to complain to about how horrible their life is, who don’t really want to progress. I have decided I want to work with clients who are willing to overcome issues and move forward. It’s okay for you to choose who you’ll work with.