Some of your new clients are not coming back for their second session, and I’m about to tell you the reason why.

Today I want to tell you the number one ingredient you have to have in all of your therapy. Literally the most important thing you’ve gotta have from the moment “Go.” From the very first time you meet your client. But first I wanna tell you a quick story.

A friend of mine told me that he’d been struggling with depression and anxiety. Real serious issues throughout his life. And three or four times this friend had gone to see a therapist, and it takes a lot of work. I think one thing, as therapists, we forget how hard it is to go see a therapist. It takes a lot of work to get yourself up and go to see a therapist.

This friend of mine was telling me three or four times, he was in such a difficult place, such a dark place. He worked himself up. People were pushing him, go to therapy, go to therapy. Then he went. And that first session was nothing more than a grueling intake session, which didn’t do anything except make it even harder to go back to the second session.

Now, the reason that this is so important is because from the moment you meet your client, you have to prioritize change. One of the things I love so much about Solution Focused Brief Therapy is we don’t waste a whole session doing an intake. We get right down to work right away, and we introduce the number one ingredient you have to have in every interaction we have with your client.

And that is hope.

Think about if a client comes to you and they’re struggling, they’re really struggling with suicidality, depression, anxiety, addiction, whatever. And they come to see you for their first session, and all you do is paperwork. All you do is an intake session and assess them about the problem. That does not give the client any hope.

It actually makes it harder because they just sat through this grueling experience. And I’ve never known anyone that enjoyed spending an hour talking about what was wrong with them, talking about their pain, their struggles, their trauma, having their problems assessed. I’ve never known anyone that would enjoy that, and it makes it harder to come back for the second session.

A lot of clients I’ve seen have overtly told me, “What I loved so much about working with you, is we got right down to work, and it didn’t have to include this really difficult process of talking about the problem.”

Therapy is a very important part of our work. Therapy is a very important part of our society. It’s a very important part of the world. It’s how we create healing through conversation. But I think not enough people are benefiting from it because we don’t do it right away.

We waste some time. And as a consequence, the drop off rate between session one and session two according to research is massive. So if I could make one change in our field, I would encourage you to not waste a whole session doing an intake about the client’s problem. Talk to them about their hopes, their wishes, their desires. Make sure that immediately you bring hope into the conversation because that’s what engages people in the process and that’s what will encourage people to stick to the therapeutic healing process.