How to See Your Clients Clearly
One of the most important aspects of being a mental health professional is knowing how to connect with your clients to give them the best quality of care. Your clients are coming to you for help during a time in their life where it is necessary to have people around them that truly understand them.
Knowing how to build relationships with your clients will help you gain a better understanding of their needs.
Seeing Clients Clearly Can Be Hard
Not everyone who seeks help from a professional is mentally or emotionally ready to do the work of healing. Some clients may be resistant to treatment which can make understanding their needs helping them difficult. A resistant client may be reluctant to open up during sessions, may not be consistent with scheduled meetings, and may not fully engage in treatment. They may say things like “I don’t have anything to talk about today” or simply not engage in your interactions.
Clients may also not open up due to past negative experiences or discomfort with the field of mental health. When clients don’t engage or open up during sessions, it can be challenging to get to know them and learn who they are, and by extension, to help them. You may also see clients who aren’t in a state to express themselves clearly. If someone is still struggling with substance abuse or going through the early stages of recovery, they might need to be referred to a different kind of treatment that may benefit them more. Although there may be situations where a client is simply not ready to change or seek help, there are ways for you to create a relationship with your clients to help you see them more clearly.
The Power of Building and Growing a Relationship
As a professional, it can be easy to become overly focused on your specialty or methodology. Not every client will respond to treatment the same way, and another method may be more productive for some than others. No matter how effective you think your approach to therapy or diagnosing illness is, if you haven’t established a relationship with your patients, chances are you aren’t seeing them clearly. When you begin to understand clients more, you may find that another treatment approach would suit their needs better.
When people visit their clinicians and mental health professionals, they often say the best part of the treatment is feeling seen and heard by them. It may not always feel possible to deeply understand your clients if you only have a few short minutes or hours to spend with them, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind during meetings with them that will help you develop a clearer sense of who they are, and what kind of help would best suit them.
Express Your Desire to Understand
To gain a deeper understanding of your client, give them the space to comfortably share their experiences and emotions with you. Many people feel that professionals and clinicians don’t always try to listen and understand their perspectives, which can cause unwillingness to share anything with their clinicians. Use active listening skills that allow for clear communication where the client can speak while you actively engage and digest the conversation. Ask questions that show you are trying to clearly understand what they are saying.
Loosen Your Expectations
As a professional, you learn over time what symptoms go with certain illnesses and may feel that you know what to expect from specific clients. Understanding that every client’s experience is unique will allow you to approach every meeting with the intention of learning what each client is specifically going through. You may have a timeline in mind for them to reach milestones or have a specific mode of treatment for different disorders based on your expertise, but if you truly see your client, you might realize you need to adjust expectations to what is achievable and most beneficial for them.
Meet Them Where They’re At
To truly get to know your clients and understand them for who they are, you have to meet them where they’re at. Doing this means being able to offer them help when they need it and how they need it. This may require you to step outside the box and try things that aren’t in your repertoire. For instance, if recommending CBT or talk therapy is your go-to treatment option for your clients, you may need to explore other therapeutic options that can benefit clients who don’t respond well to talk therapy. If you see that your client has a hard time opening up and that talk therapy will be difficult for them, try incorporating experiential therapies into their treatment.
Meeting your client where they are might require you to step outside of your normal practices, but by coming to understand each client better, you may find that different approaches can have more benefits than things you’re used to.
Remember, Connection Takes Time
Knowing how to connect with your clients will help you learn more about who they are and how to better help their circumstances. Connecting with your clients takes time and will involve a different approach for each person. It is important to always create an environment that will allow your client to truly express themselves and trust your professional help.
At The Edge Treatment Center, we prioritize the wellbeing of our clients by growing trusting relationships with them as they work through their recovery process. If you are a clinician seeking a treatment center for a client, you can reach out to find out more about our programs.