Psychological counseling is a rewarding field, particularly for individuals who feel compelled to dedicate their lives to serving others. But many new counselors focus exclusively on the well-being of their patients, while neglecting the business of psychology. If you dream of opening up your own private practice, you’ll need to pay attention to the business end of helping others too. Fortunately, there are many easy strategies you can use that don’t require a business degree to understand or implement.
The conveniences of modern society encourage people to expect instant results, but therapy isn’t something that can be rushed. True recovery and coping skills development take time and lots of effort. When you meet a new client, you should discuss your expectations early on. Take some time to assess their therapy needs and explain why you think your client can benefit from therapy that lasts a certain time period. Encourage your client to schedule a few weeks of appointments before he or she leaves your office.
Reaching Out to Say Goodbye
As you gain more professional experience, you’re likely to find that a few clients develop long-term relationships with you. They may visit you periodically or regularly for years because they recognize that mental health is something that needs to be tended to for a lifetime. Others may attend a few appointments and make some progress but then drop out of therapy without being properly discharged.
Send a handwritten card to these clients and include your business card. This will let the clients know you’ve been thinking of them and that you’re always available if they need help. Consider offering a free “goodbye” session to wrap things up. Not everyone will take you up on this offer but those who do may be reminded of why they pursued therapy in the first place.
Focusing on Counselor-Client Collaboration
One reason why some people decide to stop going to therapy appointments is that they feel they have little say in their own treatment plan. This isn’t necessarily because of something the counselor did wrong, but rather it may be attributed to the client’s view that the counselor’s opinion shouldn’t be questioned.
Encourage your clients to take an active role in their own treatment. Ask them if they’ve ever been in therapy before. If so, what worked for them? What didn’t work? What did they like and dislike about therapy? Clients who have never been in therapy before can be asked about their preconceived views of it. Use this information to guide your treatment suggestions. Encourage your clients to speak up if they feel they aren’t making any progress, or if there is something you can do to help them feel more at ease with the therapy process.
Giving your clients a voice and an active role is empowering for them and it may be exactly the right encouragement they need to continue with therapy.
The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Grand Canyon University invites you to click on the Request More Information button at the top of your screen. Our Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree program can lay the foundation for a rewarding career as a mental health counselor.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.