“Well, I just feel confused. I’m not sure where to go from here. Last week we had such a hopeful session and this week has left me feeling stuck.” This is a direct quote from a client at the end of a session with me in the last couple of months.
I used to be in the habit of checking in with every client after every session how they found the session. There were 4 measures: feeling understood and respected, whether we talked about what they wanted to work on, whether they found the approach used a good fit, and an overall score. Recently I’ve started implementing this method again. Recent research has found that instead of the type of therapy or even years of experience of the person you see, ability to receive feedback and modify sessions as appropriate is the key factor in how effective the client finds the therapy.
This feedback informed approach makes intuitive sense and is best practice in therapy and yet, sometimes its difficult to get the forms ready and solicit feedback. It requires a degree of openness to look at the way I practice and a willingness to acknowledge that sometimes I get it wrong. When I take a deep breath and have a discussion with a client about where the session missed the mark, it’s enlightening and usually not where I thought any issues were. In the case of the client above, we had a frank discussion about what was helpful in the previous session, and how the current session could have been different so that there was more clarity. Rather than let the client walk away confused (and possibly not come back) I find that if I can be open, it can lead to discussions which otherwise could never happen.
How does this apply to you?
In this era of client reviews (from restaurants to tourist activities to businesses) I’d bet that feedback is something we could all use more of, provided it is done in a helpful manner. If you are seeing a psychologist or life coach or any helping professional, please help us to help you – let us know where we are getting it right and where we could improve.