Managing Expectations in Clients

After seeing a client today I was reminded of the importance of maintaining a healthy balance between a clients expectations and what is feasibly possible and so I thought I would share it with my fellow therapists and subscribers to my blog.  

The session in question was the first of 4 sessions booked for a Virtual Gastric Band and, during the appointment the client explained that she wished to loose a stone and a half by the 26th of November (being the 5th today.)  Bearing in mind that it is not too uncommon for a client to loose 5 - 7lb in the first week and then a steady 2lb per week thereafter then we could be realistically looking at around 11 - 13lb in that time frame, however 21 lb in 3 weeks wasn't a realistic (or healthy) target to aim for.

So, there are a couple of ways we could have gone with the session.

One way is that I could have agreed to this and made promises that I cannot keep which would have led to the client feeling very unmotivated and disappointed, thereby sabotaging rapport and the whole process , even though she would still have lost a very respectable amount of weight.

Alternatively I could have been realistic and stated that giving that this technique enjoys a higher than 95% success rate and past results show that the majority of people lose around 5 - 7lbs in the first week and a steady 2lb after that making around 13lbs.

Well, I actually went for a 3rd option by underestimating the actual results and stating that it is realistic to expect a loss of 2lbs a week so we could expect around 6 - 7, possibly 8lbs and that considering that this is still eating the food she wants and no fat burning cardiovascular exercise these are fantastic results and anything else is a bonus.

Why did I do this?

Well, certainly one reason is that I like people to be delightfully surprised when they exceed their own expectations and, as things stood she was going to be bitterly disappointed at the end of 3 weeks if she didn't loose a stone and a half (which was unrealistic and unhealthy anyway), however with this in mind in actual reality she would be very close to her goal after the last session at week 4.

This is powerful motivation and so we've taken a situation where she would have been disappointed (with a respectable result) and destined for failure and de motivation and used it to ensure that she exceeds expectations and reaches her goal.

Another reason is that I wished to task her and wanted her to join a gym (also for social and confidence building reasons) or participate in some form of cardio activity.  During the session I tasked her indirectly and, while it is a great achievement to loose that amount of weight without exercise she will then attribute the extra weight loss to her own tenacity and input and stick with the gym after week 4 has finished.

Remember that being a good therapist is about taking credit for helping people but being a great therapist is empowering people and allowing them to take credit for being great.

So remember:

He who conquers others is strong; He who conquers himself is mighty.
Lao Tzu


If you found this page by a "share" or "like" on twitter or facebook and would like access to more free therapists resources then simply add your name and email below...


Name: *
Email: *
Occupation: *