How To Engage and Motivate Clients in Therapy: A Visual Guide

How To Engage Clients in Therapy- A Visual Guide

As a therapist or coach, client engagement is of vital importance.

Not only are disengaged clients unlikely to book any sort of progress, but they are also likely to stop working with you and either leave their problems unsolved or find another helping professional.

As a practitioner, however much you would like to, you can’t do the work for your clients. You can’t take responsibility for them to take responsibility.

What you can do, however, is make sure that your clients stay maximally motivated and engaged between your weekly or bi-weekly sessions.

In this blog post, I’m going to show you exactly how to do just that.

Two Ways To Keep Clients Engaged

We can divide client engagement into two basic categories;

  1. during the session
  2. outside of the session

1. During the session

We could talk about all of the things that boost client engagement during the session itself, such as: [1]

  • Continuous focus on building a strong alliance
  • Unconditional acceptance and zero judgment
  • Being empathetic at all times
  • Clear communication and active listening

We can also talk about ways of building and maintaining rapport with clients, such as: [2]

  1. Having a good personal connection
  2. Encouraging dialogue
  3. Reserving judgment

However important, ‘during the session engagement’ is not what this post is about.

If you want to learn more about that, I recommend reading our extensive resource on this topic over at PositivePsychology.com and this one at BlendedCare.com.

2. Outside of the session

Besides everything that you can do during the session to build strong rapport and a therapeutic alliance with clients, there is so much you can do outside of the session as well.

This is where most practitioners have a lot to win, including my own coach and therapist.

They try, they do.

My coach sends me emails with links to Youtube videos and my therapist uses a terrible-looking Dutch platform for sharing psychoeducation.

As a client, I’m happy they want to keep me engaged and it’s definitely better than doing nothing at all.

But this approach of sending irregular emails is, however, ineffective for various reasons.

  1. They have no idea whether I’m consuming their content
  2. I can’t leave my thoughts or feedback without having to send them an email
  3. They often forget what they have sent and don’t get back to it anymore

For them as practitioners, this approach is also sub-optimal at best, because:

  1. They spend even more time emailing things back and forth
  2. They have no idea whether their approach is effective
  3. They can’t automate or scale this client engagement process

The Problem With Outside-the-Session Engagement

Throughout the week, real-life happens.

The kids happen. Work happens, along with all the to-do’s on a never-ending to-do list.

As a practitioner, how do you break this cycle?

How can you help your clients to do at least do 20% of the work that is going to bring them 80% of the results?

This is exactly what we have built Quenza for.

How To Digitally Engage Your Clients

Using Quenza, you can share activities with clients that they can complete in between sessions.

These activities can take the form of psychoeducation, homework exercises, measurements, or simply Youtube videos like my own coach uses.

If you have weekly sessions with your clients,  for example, you can schedule these activities to be sent out 3 days after your session with a client.  This way, they stay engaged throughout the week instead of just right before or after your session.

Here is an example of an activity:

As you can see, this is a simple activity containing a text field, an image, and a short audio fragment inviting clients to engage in a short meditation exercise.

It’s a super short intervention, but it may offer clients a moment to relax and slow down during their busy week and gain the necessary perspective.

Sending out an activity like this, or your own custom activity is a great way to make sure your client is reminded of the things you’re working on in your therapy or coaching.

Keeping Clients Engaged On Autopilot

Besides sending out activities, you can also choose to share pre-built care paths with clients.

We call them ‘pathways’.

A pathway is simply a series of activities with pre-determined intervals.

Let me give you an example.

  • Day 1: send the Best Possible Self exercise
  • wait 1 day
  • Day 3: send the Three Minute Breathing Space exercise
  • wait 1 day
  • Day 5: share a short Stress Inventory with clients to measure their stress levels
  • wait 2 days
  • Day 8: send a short self-reflection exercise with clients
  • etc.

This is what a pathway looks like in the Quenza pathway builder.

As you can see, this pathway consists of only two different activities.

  1. The ‘Getting started with your stress diary’ activity that offers psychoeducation about the concept of stress
  2. The ‘Your stress levels today’ assessment that measures a client’s stress levels on a daily basis

As soon as a client has completed the first activity, they will receive the stress levels assessment.

Every day after that, for a week, they will also receive the same short assessment so both of you can get a sense of their stress levels throughout the week and can discuss this in your next session.

In academic research, they call this process where participants are asked to self-report their feelings or mood ‘experience sampling’. [3]

How to Use Digital Care Paths

You can get as creative as you like in building these pathways.

In case you offer online courses, you can set up a pathway to drip-feed your online course materials to clients during a 30-day period.

You can also create digital versions of any and all documents, videos, homework exercises, forms, or assessments that you typically share with clients and either share them as single activities when needed or combine them as building blocks to form your own pathway.

Whatever you choose to do, sharing activities and pathways with clients is one of the best and easiest ways to keep your clients engaged, to learn more about them, and to prime and nudge them to experiment with thinking and acting differently throughout the week.

Behavioral health is a hot topic in therapy land, but the only way anything is going to change in the lives of our clients is if they start thinking and acting differently based on all of the insights acquired during our one-on-one sessions.

Real change doesn’t often come in the form of an epiphany.

Real change happens at home, throughout the week when you are not there with them as a practitioner.

Try it out for yourself

Quenza allows you to be there for your clients throughout the week with thoughtful activities that can take any form you like.

If you haven’t signed up for our $1 trial yet, be sure to do so here: https://quenza.com/pricing/

Should you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me at seph@quenza.com and I’ll happily help you along.

Here’s to better client care without overwhelm,
Seph

 

References

About the author

Seph Fontane Pennock is a serial entrepreneur in the mental health space and one of the co-founders of Quenza. His mission is to solve the most important problems that practitioners are facing in the changing landscape of therapy and coaching now that the world is turning more and more digital.

Comments

  1. EC Ed Colquhoun

    Congratulations! Finally, a platform built on solid foundations. Your ethos is a breath of fresh air: Unconditional positive regard (Rogers), working towards a positive psychology (Maslow) by facilitating engagement and application in the digital age, is unquestionably the way forward.
    The internet is awash with pseudo-professional alternatives.
    Unlike those market-driven solutions, Quenza, will in my opinion, become the “go to” solution for professional therapists and coaches. Allowing the practitioner to give a “real” sense of ongoing support through action is the key. The ability to track it is essential.
    Well done!

    1. SP Seph Fontane Pennock

      Thank you so much Ed! You have beautifully described what we are working on every day. My personal psychology is also very much influenced by Maslow and Rogers and I find it fascinating to hear that that is somehow shining through.

      And yes, most tools out there are an absolute mess. We’ve tested everything before we started building Quenza. As a matter of fact, we have decided to build ourselves what we couldn’t find in existing solutions. Most have a late 90’s early 00’s look and feel as well. We wanted to do things completely differently. Modern and stripped of all clutter and non-essentials.

      Thanks again, hope the app will be of great use to you!

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