OK. I’m a little slow sometimes, but I am starting to understand. My business model is totally wrong. I have completely missed the point of being in the counseling business. And here is the problem – My clients get “well” too quickly.
It seems that most counselors see clients for 30-40 minutes, and then stop the session wherever it happens to be and schedule another session for the following week. The goal, from the counselor’s point-of-view, is to get the client to return weekly for as many sessions as they can. This is great for the counselor because they can plan on all of those return visits for income.
But the 30-40 minute session has never worked for me. I can remember being in counseling as the client, coming to the end of the session time and being in the middle of a thought. The counselor said, “Ok. We are at the end of our time. Keep that thought and that is where we will begin next time.” I hate that model because “next time” I was never in the same place with the same thoughts – the “flow of events” in my thoughts couldn’t carry over into the next session. It wasn’t good for me – it was good for the counselor.
I decided to use a different model when I started working with folks. I tell people up front that our first session will be between 90-minutes to 2-hours. In actuality, we sometimes run over 2-hours a bit. This gives us time to get into the nitty-gritty and begin working with the problem. We never stop in the middle of a thought, but end each session with a more natural, organic feeling of completion.
We engage in skill building so that the client leaves the first session knowing some new skills to address their problem and how to practice those skills. The skills are Behavioral Change Skills – Cognitive Restructuring, Relaxation, Stress Management, and Self-Hypnosis Skills. The exact combination of these skills is personalized for each client. Many clients leave the first session understanding how to deal with their problem and having measurable new skills in place. Some clients come back for 3-5 sessions for deeper understanding of the skills and to practice with me as their coach, but the “Let’s have a session every week model” never develops. And that is the problem . . .
When clients are able to so quickly learn skills that help them deal with their issues they never get into the “We-are-at-the-end-of-our-time-let’s-deal-with-that-next-week” model of counseling. They are able to become self-sufficient with their new skills and get back to living life.
That is why my business model is so awful. My clients don’t become dependent on coming to talk with me once a week for months and months. My clients develop skills that don’t depend on me at all – skills that once learned are theirs forever. These skills are easy to learn and to use. They empower clients to live life.
My business model does not create a steady stream of income based on seeing the same clients week after week. I am constantly putting myself out of work because my clients get what they need and move on – they get well ! It is a horrible business model, but it is the right thing to do.
If you keep doing what you have been doing, you will keep getting what you have been getting. Learn how to change from someone who specializes in behavioral change – a Behavioral Medicine Specialist.
I am waiting to hear from individuals who want to learn a new set of behavioral skills to deal with the problems they are facing. If you are someone who really wants to see their issues from a new point of view and to “get well,” consider giving me a call.
I am waiting for you.
Remember to be good to you!
Copyright © 2013 by Gary L. Flegal, Ph.D.
•Dr. Gary Flegal is a Behavioral Medicine and Health Specialist with a doctorate in “Health Education and Human Performance” from Michigan State University. He is an exciting and accomplished presenter and keynote speaker, presenting seminars for groups and companies on location and at conventions. His advanced training in stress management came to him while working in affiliation with the original Mind/Body Medical Institute at Harvard under the direction of Herbert Benson, M.D. and his staff. In addition to corporate presentations, Dr. Flegal keeps a busy schedule working with individual clients for a variety of stress-related issues, including anger management, quitting smoking, learning to relax and manage stress, and learning self-hypnosis.
Dr. Flegal’s other passion is magic. He has been a professional magician for over 30 years and continues practicing his art at every opportunity. These two passions work together beautifully as he illustrates stress management concepts with fun, visual, and “magical” demonstrations in his stress management workshops and seminars. It also allows him to share stress management with his magic audiences wherever he goes because “Laughter is the Best Medicine!” Gary is a Reiki Master and a Certified Consulting Hypnotist, certified by the National Guild of Hypnotists.
Dr. Flegal’s specialties include stress management, anger management, positive behavior change, insomnia, smoking cessation, and exercise physiology. For individual appointments, speaking engagements, or more information, contact Gary at Professional Stress Management Services in Nashville, Tennessee, at (615)812-7280 or through his Web site: www.GaryFlegal.com.
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