What keeps your schedule filled with appointments? It’s not your charming personality (although that has a lot to do with it). It’s not your professional acuity (even if you have decades of experience). It has nothing to do with your accommodating office hours (but please don’t change your availability!).
Why do your clients continue show up for their appointments? The answer is simple – Value! If you’re creating value in each session, it’s likely that your schedule stays booked.
If your calendar has more openings than appointments, you might want to consider what you do to create value in each session.
It’s true that your ability to connect with people, keen insight, and excellent office hours are key components to building a successful practice. However, if you fail to create value in each session, you may find that you have a much higher rate of attrition than you’d like.
Some clients come back weekly because they know they know it’s in their best interest to do so. Others might return out of obligation to a commitment they made to themselves, a loved one, or even you – their therapist.
The clients who keep coming back – those who remain consistent in their treatment plan – are often the ones who can identify a specific value in each session.
The key here is “specific value.” Anyone who has seen a chiropractor can tell that they receive manual adjustments because it makes their back feel better. However, when a patient states that since they began seeing a chiropractor, their headache pain has subsided, they no longer have numbness in their fingers, and they can stand for long periods of time – that’s when you know they’ve found value. That’s what keeps them coming back.
The same is true with mental health supports. People generally don’t remain in therapy when they cannot identify the specific value they receive from meeting with you each week. And let’s be honest. You wouldn’t keep coming back if you were in their shoes either.
When asked why she has such a low rate of attrition, one prominent Cambridge, MA psychologist stated, “In each session, I give my clients what they’re looking for.”
Don’t get this wrong. She did not say that she tells them what they want to hear.
There’s a big difference between the two statements. She went on to say, “If my client is looking for a listening ear, I listen. If a client is looking for direction, I offer guidance. If a client needs help with making a decision, I help him or her weigh options. I try to give my clients what they came for in each session.”
That’s value! That’s why her clients elect to remain in therapy even after the initial goals of the treatment plan have been met.
There is no specific formula for creating value. How you create it is up to you. That’s part of your job as a therapist. It is important to keep in mind that your definition of value may not equal that of your clients. So be creative and invest in the process. Both you and your clients will be glad you did!