How to Help in JUST Ten Minutes?
How do you help people who seek your counsel? Beyond all the tools and techniques, there is one element that you may be overlooking – your attitude. When your attitude is one of compassion, healing takes place. I recall a conversation I had with my father regarding sales. He told me to find something about them you have in common. As you meet a client, find something about them you like. If there isn’t anything obvious, inwardly repeat the statement “God bless you… I love you”.
“God bless you… I love you” has gotten me through some very difficult situations. For 11 years I worked at a Mental Health Urgent Care center and didn’t know who was going to come through the door next. When people with paranoia thought I was in on the plot against them, that tool kept my heart open and worked as a shield. Now, I had some challenging clients there, that really tested my nerves, but in all my, over 7,000 sessions there, not once did my client attack me – even when the voices in their head were instructing them to do so.
I look back fondly on those days. If you like quick results, that is the place to work. We only had a few moments to create a therapeutic bond with clients and what helped was other people in the holding area that would tell others I was leading into the interview room that I was great and could be trusted. In being kind-hearted and confident in their ability to heal, it gives them hope. People don’t want to be lectured or shamed, they just want to feel better and
when we provide them with compassion it tells them they aren’t as bad as they thought.
Establish trust with the client is the number one task of anybody in the helping profession. Would you trust somebody that treated you negatively? Healing is not following the dictates of some how-to book, it comes from your interaction with another person just like you. Think about it, we are all the same. Given other circumstances, you could be them. In demeaning the person and making them less than you, you probably do the same to you. In keeping ourselves upbeat in sessions, your own self-care becomes a priority.
I use the acronym “J.U.S.T.” at the initial phase of treatment.
J = Joy – Be joyful that they are there. It took a lot of courage to get into your office and be grateful they made the effort to do so. If your joy overwhelms them, tone it down but continue to keep your heart open.
U = Understandstand – Put yourself into their shoes. Ask them for details. If there is a grey area, ask about it. Remember that clients are the authority of themselves – be curious about how they view the world.
S = Silence – It is important for them to vent. When we are silent, we are allowing them to search their mind and get in touch with the deeper meanings within them. Let them take the lead. Wait for a few beats before communicating.
T = Talk – when you reply, to ensure the message sent gets received, communicate from a compassionate place. Perception checking works great by simply repeating back to them what you heard them say.
Be Consistent, Informative, and Interested
I’ve read the books in Graduate School about it taking a minimum of six months to bond with a client. In crisis situations, it was imperative to bond quickly, in order to put the client at ease. Bonding can happen instantaneously when you show genuine compassion. Still, not all clients are instantly open and trusting, therefore it is important for you to be consistent, informative, and interested in them as a person.
At the Mental Health Urgent Care, we handed difficult clients to each other if they were too unruly. Of course, it always seemed that I got stuck with the most difficult types. One such client was amazing. He seemed like a younger version of myself and instantly we bonded. The other staff members couldn’t believe it was the same person when they left – and this was not uncommon.
Caring about the client has huge benefits. They open up and talk about the sensitive issues that brought them into your office. To them, their problems come with judgments and ridicule, but when you portray acceptance and hope for them, it is like a huge weight gets lifted from their shoulders.
Thank you for reading this article. My intention is to continually pass on knowledge in hopes that your clients and practice will thrive.