Work Yourself Out of a Job With Every Client in 2017

Checklists for the New Year are a pretty hot topic. Personally, I love checklists. Especially short ones. So my checklist for you today has only one item:

  1. Consider making this year the year you work yourself out of a job with every client.

Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? I mean if you had a toothache you’d want a cure, not a relationship. Of course I know not every client comes to us with the psychological equivalent of a toothache. There are clients who want to delve deeply into their psyche. Others, we know, will need a lifetime of supportive care due to chronic mental health issues that may never resolve.

Many of our clients, however, just want to feel better quickly.

Before I became a counselor I was a mom with a child who was acting out in dangerous ways. I needed effective help fast. After experiencing managed care, waiting lists, peer review for medical necessity, relapses, and weeks spent waiting for return phone calls I felt there had to be a better way. When I opened I tried to act on that feeling. I decided that ‘working ourselves out of a job with every client’ would be our foundation and every decision we made as a business would have that mission in mind.

If you haven’t guessed already, my theory of choice is an eclectic mix of strategic/MRI and solution-focused therapy. We gear everything at from our initial phone contact with clients to our session three-point wrap-ups, to setting the expectation that counseling will result in a reduction of symptoms.

Getting better quickly through counseling isn’t something we invented at (if it was I’d bottle it and sell it). No, Steve deShazer’s saw counseling as solution-focused and Peggy Papp hypothesized ‘setting the terms for therapy’ long before I developed scripts for ten-minute phone consultations and first-session interviews. New techniques like Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) even help many clients feel better in one session and change things in such a way that symptoms do not return.

If you are a counselor, then you are already a part of the solution. You chose to help people as a profession and the world is better for that decision. Incorporating a ‘work-yourself-out-of-a-job’ mentality in your own practice just means you may need to alter the way you do business:

  • Shift your focus to increasing intakes rather than maintaining a client load.
  • Challenge yourself to become great at letting the community know what it is that you do (marketing and advertising).
  • Start setting the terms for therapy right away with 10-minute phone consultation and three-point wrap-up scripts.
  • And if you are feeling adventurous, attend training in solution-focused individual and family techniques.

The most important thing is to make sure you are in touch with your calling. You are a therapist, you are amazing, you have a gift, and you must share it the way that feels best to you.

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