Today was a wellness appointment day, when I see seven clients in seven hours. Over the summer, I only schedule two such days per month, but in the winter, it can be four or five days. More than that, and I start referring clients to other people. I just can't handle that intensity more often--the reason I set aside all hope of ever being a fulltime counselor.
That hour with the client is spent discussing the details of what they eat, what they drink, what they take, what they do, what they think, and what they feel. New clients, accustomed to delivering their health complaint in 90 seconds or less, can't imagine why we need a full hour. But I'm not there to connect Problem A with Solution B. The goal is to educate the client about why diet and lifestyle choices impact how--and how well--life is lived. We go through everything they're taking, prescription and otherwise, and make a list of things to discuss with their physician. We discuss research versus hype, assumptions versus reality, and why the latest obscure herb they heard about on Dr. Oz might not be worth their time to hunt down.
But the most important segment of the appointment is the Sustainability Assessment--or, as I tell clients, the process by which we find strategies to sidestep their excuses. ;-) And I do mean strategies. Not guilt trips, not intellectual reasons, not shaming statements. Instead, we discuss, step by step, how changes can be made.
Example: A client was trying desperately to get her sugars under control, but was struggling with cravings and habits that crept in every time she tried to change what she ate. She'd do well all day then, on her way home, would stop at the corner store to pick up the local newspaper. And a root beer and a candy bar. She absolutely couldn't walk out without those treats. Her dietician had told her all about the healthy choices she could make instead--low-salt nuts, a high fiber fruit, and so forth--but the client would still end up with the other treats in addition to the healthy ones!
So I suggested she have the paper delivered to her home.
That one action--the choice to focus on behavior rather than the food that went with the behavior--opened the door for her to examine other choices. It gave her a different perspective, a renewed sense of control over her habits.
Usually I'm completely wiped at the end of the day, often because a couple of the appointments are folks who don't want to be there, who were talked into it by a friend or family member, or are there to engage in a debate about allopathic versus alternative medicine. (I don't debate. I just start printing off research for them.) But today was a good day--some new clients who couldn't wait to use their new knowledge, a returning client ready to take the next step, and two clients doing so well I won't need to see them again unless something goes sideways.
I left the office late, but invigorated. Folks had made changes to their lives that actually did change their life. Other folks had new hope for situations they'd been told they'd just have to live with. And one woman walked out knowing the changes she'd made had saved her marriage.
Every time I think I just can't spend another day giving individual appointments, the universe sends me a day like today.
To top it off, I drove past the new dojo on the way home and admired the awesome signs that were installed today.