There’s a popular saying that goes “your children are your mirror”. In other words, your children are a reflection of your parenting and even other more subtle things like your personality and mood. I was thinking recently, what if our clients are a reflection of who we are as therapists?
I have really great clients. They are all very respectful of my time, motivated, and come to their sessions energized and ready to work. It wasn’t always this way though. Back at the beginning of my career I used to really struggle with just getting people to come in for their appointments. The no-show rate at the first agency I worked for was 50%. And when clients did come in for their appointments, it wasn’t unusual for them to just sit in silence and refuse to talk. Sometimes a client would even threaten me. It’s hard to imagine things like happening now, but there was a time in my career when it was common place. What changed?
I think what changed is I became a better therapist. Back then it was a mystery to me why my clients were so difficult, but when I look back with hindsight I see that I must have been difficult for them too. I was fresh out of school and really didn’t know what I was doing. The agency I was working for didn’t respect the clients and no wonder the no-show rate was so high. They probably felt that I didn’t respect their time, so why should they respect mine? They probably felt that I was more of an adversary than an ally.
I think about how things were back then and then I compare things to how I am as a therapist now. I’m very focused on how I can make sure my clients are getting the most out of the sessions. I give “extras” that a lot of therapists wont do. I’m very focused on customer service. My clients see that I’m going the extra mile, so that gets reflected back. If you’re wondering how your clients feel about you, just ask yourself how you feel about them and that will be your answer. In general, if you ever wonder how others feel about you, people generally feel about you the same way you feel about them. So if you ever feel like a client doesn’t value your time, they probably feel that you’re wasting their time too.
Our clients are our mirror. In my book “Tricks of the trade” I wrote “good clients are made not born”. If you feel unhappy with your caseload, you might want to take a closer look at yourself and how you’re doing therapy. It can be painful to be introspective like this, but ultimately helpful.