In this post we're continuing our theme of tasking, digging a bit deeper into why tasking is so important, for your success and your client's.
In my trainings I'm continually surprised to find that many therapists don't task their clients before they see them. When I ask them why not the answer is most often one of two things: they've been introduced to the concept of tasking but they don't know what tasking to set, or they've never been introduced to the concept of tasking. Therapists that don't set tasks before seeing the client can still get positive results with their client, but in many cases tasking can expedite the client's awareness of their destructive habits and expedite the process of overcoming them.
So why would you use tasking?
If you would like to have clients that are willing to jump over obstacles to achieve their goals then you need to understand tasking. And frankly that's just about what it takes to get results in most cases. If it were easy they wouldn't be seeing you! If you are going to charge nominal amounts for your sessions and/or work with people that are not paying for their sessions, eg kids that have parents pay for their sessions, then you especially need to understand tasking as it will likely help to get results for your client, in a shorter time frame.
It's also particularly important to understand the process, and use of tasking for clients that have seen many people for their problem. Often the more times the client has seen someone and not got a result, the more important it is for the client to complete tasking.
Tasking is also a great way to deal with friends and family that want you to work with them. Typically this can be an uncomfortable conversation as you know that the client needs to have investment in their session. This leaves you in an uncomfortable position as you want to be able to help them and tasking is the perfect way to do that. I have helped numerous family and friends deal with a range of issues just by the tasking I set for them.
Delivering a task that the client will need to do 100% without you is the main objective. When using tasking in this manner it will have the desired effect of making sure the client will work on the problem before you have to see them. For paying clients I receive payment for the session before I set the tasking.
In my experience very few clients, paid or free, complete the tasking 100%. I always make sure the tasking is completely relevant to the client, achievable and will move them towards their goals of being without the issue they've come to see me for. I've structured my guarantee and refund policies to reflect the services being offered and the agreement between myself and the client. This means that if they don't complete the tasking 100% that will move them to reaching their goals or objectives, they often rule themselves out of the coaching or session as they did not do their preparatory work as agreed. The tasking is a significant part of the session and acts as a qualifier of sorts, to show how dedicated and committed the client is to sorting out their problem.
If they do the tasking 100% then you know they're dedicated to working on themselves and will do whatever it takes; they have shown a healthy investment in solving their problem. When you deliver the ideal task it is likely that the task will solve the problem. If it doesn't completely solve it, it will likely loosen the problem considerably.
I had a friend of my sister in law contact me about working on his low self esteem. He felt that this was holding him back after a marriage breakdown. I told him my fee and suggested some tasking to do in order to make sure he wanted to really see me. He did the tasking and realized that his problem was not worth my fee and through the tasking decided to just get over himself. Not long after that he was in a relationship. You might see this as doing yourself out of a client, I felt that I did not really want to work with the client in the first place due to the fact he was a close friend of my sister in law. In the end it was a win/win as I was able to provide enough 'help' for him to move on.
So why tasking? Tasking puts a spotlight on the particular problem: how they do it, when they do it, and how it affects them. Making the task an ordeal for the client is a sure way to have the client loosen the grip on their problem. At best, it will have them reject the behavior and flush out any secondary gain they have on keeping the problem.
In addition to the benefits that tasking brings to your client it also helps you. When you have the information the client is gathering sent to you ahead of time, you then you have a better handle on how to help address the problem. It's like getting a birds eye view of the client running their problem or behavior. You will be able to see patterns and process the client is running with the behavior. This can save you a lot of time investigating and delving into the problem being presented whilst the client is in front of you.
So let's see if you understand why you would do tasking. Think of a client that you have had that did not follow instructions, that you thought was a 'difficult' client. Now think about what would have happened if you had've asked them to complete some homework in the form of tasking before you booked the session in the first place. Do you think that client would've turned up? Do you think you would've got a different result?
I'd love to hear of your experiences of using tasking or not using tasking and what results you're getting with your clients. In the comments below leave your thoughts. Lets see if we can see any patterns.