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Four Powerful Places to Preframe the Therapeutic Experience

“I let my client down,” said Ivonne, a gifted CranioSacral Therapist who’d just worked with a woman recently diagnosed with cancer.

I could hear the pain and self-recrimination in her voice. “Was it a difficult session?” I asked.

“No,” she replied. “It was quite powerful. But I can tell she was disappointed that she wasn’t healed or at least significantly improved after one session.”

Has that ever happened to you? You do great work with a client, only to find she expected to have her condition resolved in a single session?

That’s actually a simple challenge to resolve when you remember this: An ounce of preframing is worth a pound of reframing.

Framing helps manage your clients’ perceptions. With preframing, you’re simply managing a perception that hasn’t been formed yet. It gives your clients the overarching context within which to understand their therapeutic experience.

Here are four powerful places to preframe the healing journey—and ease your client’s concerns.

1. Whenever a New Client Asks, “How Many Sessions Will This Take?”\
You know it’s coming, the dreaded question that makes your stomach clench. Relax, take a deep breath, and respond with something like this ...

“Every person and condition is unique. While some conditions may resolve in a single session, more often it’s like peeling away the layers of the onion. We release restrictions layer by layer until we get to the core issue that’s been holding all the others in place.

“So while I can’t tell you exactly how many sessions it’ll take for your particular issue to resolve, I promise you this: At the end of each session, I’ll give you my honest opinion about whether I truly believe you could use another session or whether you’re good to go.”
This frank discussion establishes you as your client’s ally with full integrity.

2. Whenever a New Client DOESN’T Ask, “How Many Sessions Will This Take?”
Surprised? After all, if your client doesn’t ask, why bother jumping in?

Here’s why: Just because she isn’t saying it doesn’t mean she isn’t thinking it. Help her make the mental leap by saying something like this...

“Many people ask me how many sessions it’ll take for their particular challenge to resolve.” Then introduce the onion analogy.  

She’ll appreciate your honesty. And you’ll feel free to proceed without worrying about her expectations.

3. In Your Written Policies
Whenever something comes up in your practice that consistently makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a sure sign you need a written policy about it.

Modify or adapt the onion analogy so it fits nicely on the page with all your other policies and procedures. Then ask your client to sign the page before her first session with you.

4. At the End of Every Session
You’ve spent thousands, even tens of thousands on your hands-on training. Your clients rely on you for your expertise and authentic feedback. Give them the benefit of your life’s work.

At the end of each session, using whatever intuitive method works best for you, recap the improvements you experienced with her. And let her know whether you believe there’s still more work to be done.

Your client may choose to come back. Or not. The power remains in her hands. But now at least she can make a more informed and enlightened decision.

At my encouragement, Ivonne began preframing her clients’ CranioSacral experiences.

“I felt a lot clearer!” she said. “I wish they taught these things in alternative training or massage school. This has been a HUGE piece I’ve been struggling with.”

If you’re struggling with the same issue, use these powerful techniques to preframe the therapeutic journey. You’ll save yourself from wasting time and effort reframing the experience instead.

And you’ll find you have a lot more energy to do the hands-on work you love.