Engagement: The Platform to Maximization
Depending on the needs and the modality of treatment for each client, we can spend significant time with our clients as providers. These session frequencies can range from weekly, biweekly, to even monthly. During these sessions, providers will spend an average of approximately 50 minutes engaging with the client. But are these 50 minutes a month enough to accomplish the goals set out in a client’s treatment plan?
After the session, the expectation of the client is that they continue to work toward the goals documented in their collaborative treatment plan: to maximize the time spent during the 50 minute session and initiate continual progress. But how do we really walk alongside clients in a way that encourages and empowers the maximizing of this time in between? It is essential for both clients and providers to have equal investment in the treatment provided in order to increase the likelihood of successful goal progress. It is not uncommon for clients to become overwhelmed with the task of managing their health, and too often, clients do not understand what their role in treatment is at the conclusion of a session. Providers who offer clear direction, expectations, and empower their clients to take ownership of their treatment plan between each session, will increase the accuracy of progress feedback from the client.
So, what tools can we offer as providers to see an increase in the client’s progress during the time in between? Increase can come from client journaling and ongoing clinician engagement between sessions.
Maximizing the In Between: Client Journaling
The duration between sessions can be long – and inevitably during this time, both significant and insignificant events occur in the life of the client. We often can’t remember what events took place three days ago, let alone remember what we were thinking and feeling physically and emotionally. So, how do we ensure the client will return to the next session with accurate information regarding their emotions, physiological events, and detail of the events that took place? Encouraging clients to take notes, journal, document symptoms, changes, and progress toward treatment allows for increased feedback accuracy at the next session. Asking clients questions about their treatment and helping the client understand their treatment, empowers the client to take more ownership of the time in between… to invest in a tool such as journaling.
Maximizing the In Between: Ongoing Communication
If journaling is not the client’s preferred method, maximizing time in between sessions may mean encouraging your client to communicate with you during this time. There is an increasingly large amount of data showing that more and more clients are texting, emailing and chatting with their provider between sessions. From the provider perspective, we are hearing more and more of staff freely texting clients for updates on their progress, or a “How are you doing today?” message. With appropriate boundaries, this can increase client engagement as well as increase client feedback on their treatment progress. The downfall to texting, emailing, and other forms of communication is that these communications may not be HIPAA compliant. It is always encouraged to use a communication platform between sessions that meet the privacy and security needs of our clients. This is ultimately to keep each client safe.