While different modalities of clinical practice have different theories, the time between sessions can be crucial for the continued progress of clients in your care. Homework assignments are common to help propel clients towards their goals. But how do you get your clients to be compliant?
Do you have clients who never do their homework?
It can be so frustrating to make progress in a session, assign work to reinforce what was discussed and find in the next session nothing has happened. When homework assignments are completed, you can cover more ground with your clients, allowing them to get more value out of their time. It can make therapy take longer, cost more and generally address fewer issues when time between sessions isn’t maximized.
The client-therapist relationship is that of two mature adults. You can’t hound them to do their homework like you would a high school student. You need to encourage clients to participate in their treatment plan while still maintaining mutual respect.
These are some ways to address homework non-compliant clients to help them make more progress:
- Get to the root of why they aren’t doing homework. Dr. Michael Broder writes “What can you do with clients who do not complete agreed-upon homework assignments? The answer often lies in the very resistance to change that could be behind practically all of their therapeutic issues.”
- Be clear about why homework needs to happen. Bruce E. Wampold says in his paper for the American Psychological Association on Qualities And Actions Of Effective Therapists, “The effective therapist provides a treatment plan that is consistent with the explanation provided to the client. Once the client accepts the explanation, the treatment plan will make sense and client compliance will be increased.”
- Follow up consistently. Research suggests that “Therapists who do not consistently follow up on homework assignments are less likely to generate appropriate patient regard for the activity.”
- Leverage technology. Therachat is an electronic platform that can be used to remind clients to complete their homework in a non-offensive way where they still have the autonomy to ignore it, letting them feel empowered by their choice to complete their assigned homework. The Therachat infrastructure also allows for post session surveys and pre-session input to allow for course correction in the treatment plan. This helps contribute to better client satisfaction and retention.
Better homework compliance can help clients see better results, leading them to feel more self-efficacy and trust in the therapeutic relationship. Most importantly, they are better able to both reach their goals and feel ownership of their progress. This allows for more independence and confidence that they can continue to use the skills they acquire in therapy out in the world.
Between getting to the root of why client’s aren’t doing their homework, being clear about why they need to do it, following up consistently and leveraging technology you can help support your clients in being more effective between sessions. What strategies have you found to be most effective?
If you’re looking for a technological solution to support better homework compliance, reach out to us at Therachat and see how we can help you and your clients achieve more through your therapeutic relationship.
Sarina Arefzadeh is a Vancouver-based content marketer, mental health advocate, and pop culture enthusiast. She brings her education in psychology and sociology to unpack topics like tech, gender, mental health, and online life. She’s a speaker with Jack.org, regularly visiting schools to talk to students about their mental health, what it means, and how they can be there for themselves and their peers. Connect with Sarina on LinkedIn, Twitter, or by email.