How to not set up clients, and yourself, to fail

As a scientist, communication coach and partnership-centred healing practitioner, I do my best to bridge the gifts of our left and right brain hemispheres. Intuition can partner beautifully with logic, and as we have these faculties we should be using them optimally.

Clients can have have amazing healing experiences with me that unfold for weeks and months and I always give each client homework in the form of a specific practice, communication skill or technique to use in between sessions.

BUT after doing my research, I discovered only a percentage follow through on using the strategies I gave them.


I was making an assumption that my clients could IMPLEMENT those strategies easily, even after we practiced them together.

The art and science of implementation is a missing ingredient in the many healthcare, coaching, therapeutic and healing services who aim to empower their clients or patients.

If you're a practitioner who provides a service to help anyone, the strategies you give your clients might be AWESOME, be grounded in research evidence, follow clinical guidelines or practice wisdom or sound GENIUS but unless they fit into the routine of your client's life and their bigger picture beyond their immediate need (besides emergency situations that require urgent medical attention), the homework won't get done and new healthy habits don't develop.

That's because once a strategy is suggested or even better, co-developed based on complementary expertise, it needs to be implemented. Implementation needs its own planning process.

Together, you'll want to discover what resources your client has to support the successful implementation of this strategy. You'd look at things like: when it will happen, what time of day, how often, who else needs to be involved, who can support this change, what can be removed to add it in and what are the risks of that. Etc. Like setting goals, implementation plans can benefit from being SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant & time bound) so your client can report back on the results.

So how do you do that with your client?

Reality test it!

Role play with your client to discover the risks that could derail its execution aka playing devil's advocate until you have a SMART implementation plan to support your SMART strategy.

By walking through a process with your client to help them see how the plan looks in reality, the more likely the plan will succeed. And if it doesn't succeed, there will be some amazing learning and possibly other beneficial outcomes. Which is also why reviewing outcomes at the beginning of the next session is so important in order to learn together and course correct.

This is also why you can't create an implementation plan for your client. They need to be involved in the process. In fact, they should probably be involved in setting strategies and goals to ensure they're meaningful for them as it's the client who has to take action and experience the outcomes.

So rather than wondering why your clients aren't taking their prescription, not doing meditation at home, going to the gym, eating more healthy food or standing up for themselves when facing adversity, realise that perhaps the course of action was doomed from the start.  As helping practitioners, one of our roles is to help our clients try the new skills out & plan where to fit them in their full lives before we send them off on their own lives with blind optimism & assumption that they know what to do, why and how to do it.

If you're looking for a coach, healer or healthcare practitioner to help you change something significantly, ask them if they can help you implement the strategies they suggest from your consultations. If not, ask them for a referral to someone they work with closely who do that.

Educating people on what you think they need to know isn't enough. Being an effective practitioner who can facilitate meaningful change in someone's life requires that you take an interest in their life, their supports, barriers, cultural beliefs, strengths and problems before considering suggesting a course of action.


This falls into the realm of coaching communication skills and personal qualities that are enhanced through programs that train people to unlearn from the expert model and discover the rewards of working as partners in care.

Working with clients in this way has helped me and them stay on track with supporting them to achieve the goals that take them closer to fulfilling their vision.

I teach practitioners how to unlearn and rediscover the power of uncertainty, not knowing, curiosity, wonder and awe in facilitating meaningful change for themselves and their clients. These qualities improve connection to intuitive and practical wisdom, enhance therapeutic partnerships with clients and prevent burnout and compassion fatigue. Contact me for more information.