I was having lunch with a colleague whom I respect very much when I learned that I haven’t given my practice much thought. Which is to say that I haven’t given it any thought. When she asked me what types of clients I prefer, all I could say was, “You know, I really don’t know.” I’ve worked with a bunch of people addicted to heroin (or other opiates), and I’ve taught a whole mess of continuing education workshops to slew of therapists, counselors and social workers. Yet, it didn’t seem to matter to me what “type” of client they were. I said, “I guess I have a come one come all approach to clients.” I figured she’d laugh; I thought it was pretty funny.
She didn’t laugh. “Look,” she said. “You’re a heck of a teacher and writer, but you need to figure out if you want to have a serious practice. You should really know your ideal client, what he or she appreciates, values, understands, and is will to do. Otherwise, you’ll never really reach your full potential. And you’re simply too good to waste.”
Since that day, I have given my “ideal client” some thought. Since my approach is the same whether I’m working with a substance abuser or a social worker, I decided that my ideal client is my ideal client regardless of background or life circumstances. Therefore, my ideal client:
- Appreciates all that is good and strong and beautiful through his or her own filters and beliefs. That is to say that my definition of the good and strong and beautiful may be different that my ideal client’s, but he or she should at least have an idea of what goodness, strength, and beauty is to him or her.
- Values love. My ideal client may not be in a place where he or she feels worthy of being loved or can’t yet see how to love, but my ideal client needs to value love of self, other, and of God as he or she knows God.
- Understands that I don’t have the answers, but that he or she does within his or her soul. My ideal client doesn’t have to understand that language is the mediator between mind, body, and soul, but he or she does need to understand (at some point) that he or she ha a divine nature through which he or she can face all of life’s circumstances. From that basic understanding, my ideal client can learn how to use the best within him or her soul for his or her own health.
- Agrees to write and write and write. For me, whether it’s an individual struggling through a heroin addiction or a social worker earning continuing education units, if he or she work with me, my ideal client agrees to write in order to mine his or her soul such that my ideal client can codify his or her own truth.
While this profile of my ideal client may seem lofty, I think that if I work with this ideal client, he or she will find the answers he or she seek. All I can do is to guide my ideal client, but it’s up to him or her to be my ideal client. While this profile is “ideal,” I really think that knowing this ideal client has allowed me to understand my own methods such that I can formally and better construct my ideal practice. The client is the foundation.