It’s clear: assigning homework to counselling clients comes with a list of benefits. But the positive results only come from completion. So many counsellors find themselves asking, “How can I ensure my counselling clients actually do their homework?”
Let’s take a look at why counselling clients may not be completing homework, and how to solve those roadblocks.
3 reasons counselling clients struggle with homework
1. Difficulty picking up a new habit
Homework is so much more than just another task to complete in a day — it’s a positive habit that’s going to take time to consistently implement into a schedule. As with any new habit, it’s important to make it as easy as possible in order to reduce friction. In the beginning, try assigning clients with a homework exercise that will take just minutes to complete.
This will encourage clients to simply show up and gain a level of commitment — giving them a better chance for long-term adoption. Once they’re comfortable with the minimum, slowly increase complexity.
2. It doesn’t fit into their lifestyle
One of the most important factors to successful homework compliance is lifestyle fit. For example, if your client is more engaged in the morning, encourage them to complete homework as soon as they wake up. If they’ve got a lifestyle that makes it impossible to squeeze one more thing into their mornings, encourage them to try afternoons or evenings.
In that same vein, homework should be delivered in a way that’s comfortable and familiar to clients. Many clients in today’s world prefer to receive homework digitally. As they already spend hours on their devices for school or work, receiving homework in that same way can boost compliance because it fits right into their lifestyle. A digital homework app like Therachat makes this really simple by delivering homework in a user-friendly way — right on a client’s own personal devices.
3. Re-living difficult memories
Certain homework prompts can cause clients to tap into past traumatic events. This may not have been intentional, but the nature of the homework exercise could result in avoidance from clients. This is a natural response, however it’s recommended to avoid homework of this nature while the client is still building the new habit. Counsellors can guide their clients through a set plan to build up momentum. Start with simple exercises and slowly move towards complex.
Over time, clients will begin to feel more confident completing their homework. They may even begin to enjoy reaching for homework as part of their mental health tool belt.
How to boost homework compliance for counselling clients
Better homework compliance is integral to better counselling outcomes for clients. Benefits include reaching therapy goals faster, lower remission rates, and client-reported documentation about their mental health journey. There are many reasons why counselling clients struggle with homework, but the good news is that there are tools to boost compliance.
A digital homework app like Therachat is an amazing tool to keep you connected to your clients. Therachat comes with skill-building activities, daily reminders to stay on-track, mindfulness exercises, and emotion tracking. It’s an innovative way to help your clients feel supported between appointments. That between-session connection will keep homework top-of-mind and allow clients to complete it in a way they’re familiar with.