Obesity Patient Care: What We Teach Of Ourselves
In mental health practice, a practitioner has about 15 minutes during initial intake to build rapport and set the tone and presence of the relationship. Establishing this relationship may be arguably easier in person, but telehealth affords similar opportunities and challenges. The important topic today is that people only “know” us by what we teach of ourselves.
We Create Safety
To create the safe space that’s optimal for counseling and health intervention we have to know our strengths and preferences. For example my statement of strengths is:
I’m kind, conscientious, experienced, insightful, humorous, and inclusive.
Strengths are those qualities that are relatable, and consistent. They’re what we teach of ourselves to our clients from intake to discharge. Preferences are not the same as strengths, and as practitioners, we know we won’t be the right “fit” for everyone. Clients present with very different motivations and personalities. To be effective, we have to understand and work with our client “preferences”. My statement of preference is:
My ideal client is mildly motivated for change but struggling with the emotional and physical manifestations of poor self-view. They’re hoping to gain insight, knowledge and skills to reach personal goals.
Hey – I said ideal! In private practice it’s easier to screen and select clients we think we can help. In fact, it’s an ethical responsibility to work within our scope and strengths.
We Create Inclusivity
At team BreakThrough! our practice is focused entirely on recovery from the mental health conditions that lead to emotional eating, and the development of metabolic disorder and type 2 diabetes. Our clients are anywhere on the continuum of motivation, age, and severity of conditions. The first message we share is that WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER! We teach and counsel from the voice of an inclusive WE, and that voice matters!
Meet Clients Where They Are
Our clients don’t arrive full of optimism, hope or confidence. It’s actually the opposite. They’re often stuck in a pattern of self-loathing, with history of failed attempts at self-care (weight management), diets, and a narrative filled with depression, fears, and defeat. Often they’ve been “sent” to counseling by their primary care providers and we’re met with resentment and distrust.
We meet them with kindness, appreciation and honor their narrative. We express how grateful we are that they’ve chosen to start their journey with us. We’re creating the safe space for tears, frustration and ultimately the introduction of changes they can make.
In counseling both individual and groups, we focus on their narrative, not ours, to inform and direct the therapeutic process. That said, all our clients work through the course text for BreakThrough! to support recovery from obesity and related health conditions. The text contains over 160 topics sequentially structured to help clients develop insights and practice self-care. We take the position that mental health conditions are the catalyst for change. That depression, anxiety, and other conditions serve as opportunities to look at our life choices and just do some things differently. In other words we focus on hope not pathology. So, the question of the day is:
What am I Teaching My Patients about Myself and Our Journey Ahead?
If WE can help your clients recover from mental health challenges, the online and supervised BreakThrough! courses integrate well with primary care practices. Endorsed by the American Counseling Association, NBCC, and others, BreakThrough! relies on evidence-based practices, up to date research, and great presentations to help you clients recover.