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Emotionally Draining Clients

As complementary therapists, we love helping people and making them feel better. We want to give our clients the best possible treatment and make sure they leave feeling refreshed and energized. But for therapists, there are two ways our client might leave us feeling: those who energize you and those who drain you. What happens when we encounter clients who drain our energy? These “energy vampire” clients can be detrimental to your career, leading to emotional burnout, which is the number one reason why therapists quit.

How to recognise an emotionally-draining client

Are you feeling emotionally drained after a day of seeing clients? Do you feel deflated when you see certain names in your diary for the day? Do you dread the thought of certain clients booking in with you? If you had a few particular clients pop into your head, the first step is to be able to identify them so you can protect your energy and your career.  If you found that MANY names came to your mind, then you should really consider making a list of the clients to assess the situation.

Some other ‘Red Flags’ that are stereotypical within sessions might include:

  1. Negative attitude and constant complaining: Energy-draining clients tend to have a negative outlook on life in general and are constantly complaining about everything. They focus on the negative and bring down the energy in the room. You might find yourself always trying to help them see the positive in everything, leaving you feeling exhausted when their session finishes. 
  2. Demanding and high maintenance: These clients tend to be very demanding and require a lot of attention. They may make unreasonable requests and expect you to go above and beyond what is normal. You’ll probably notice that you massively over-deliver with these clients, and regularly go over-time with them.
  3. Lack of personal responsibility: Energy-draining clients often have a victim mentality and refuse to take responsibility for their own actions. They blame others for their problems and come in each session expecting you to solve them, even if it is unrealistic or outside of your scope.
  4. Constantly crossing boundaries: These clients tend to have poor boundaries and may ask personal questions or expect you to be available outside of normal business hours. They may also push you to perform treatments or techniques that you are not comfortable with.

In some cases, it’s crucial to let extremely energy-draining clients go; but always in a professional way. When it comes to letting clients go, it’s important to be honest and compassionate. Explain that you may not be the best therapist for them and refer them to someone who may better suit their needs. Remember that this is not a personal attack on the client or any incapability in you; it’s about creating a positive and productive environment for both you and the client.

If you have several clients identified as being mild energy-drainers, an important step to take is to organize your diary in a way that you don’t have too many clients who are known to be draining booked in one day or week. This will help you maintain your energy levels and avoid burnout. And again, I emphasise that it’s okay to say no to a client or refer them to another therapist if you’re already feeling overwhelmed!

On the flip side, it’s also essential to identify your high-vibe clients, those who leave you feeling energized and uplifted. Take note of what makes these clients different, and focus on attracting more of them and how to get them to refer others like themselves, leading to even more high-vibe clients in your practice.  These clients will help balance out the energy-draining ones and keep you motivated and excited about your work.

Let’s make sure our career thrives by prioritizing our energy and the quality of our work. Also, Remember to take care of yourself and prioritize your own well-being!

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