The Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Clients Motivated
September 14, 2022
The relationship between a health and wellness practitioner and their clients is built on a foundation of motivation. As a practitioner, you need to be invested in gaining a deep understanding of each client’s unique health history, challenges, and goals. And your clients must be committed to following your treatment plans to experience meaningful change. This, of course, describes a perfect world scenario. Since practice is never perfect, you’ll inevitably always have non-compliant patients in the mix.
What’s not inevitable is accepting that someone who is “forgetting” to take their supplements or not following their prescribed nutrition plan or resisting doing their daily stretches can’t be helped if they won’t help themselves. Some people are naturally more motivated to change than others and it’s not their fault. In fact, scientists have unearthed a chemical connection showing highly motivated individuals have increased levels of dopamine in the reward and motivation portions of the brain.
You don’t have to become an expert dopamine hacker to light a motivational fire under a non-compliant patient. But you do need to meet each client where they are, understanding which unique drivers will personally motivate the individual you’re treating. This article is a great place to start.
Keep reading to better understand the psychology of motivation, discover key signs that a client is lacking motivation, and learn proven strategies for shifting even your most non-compliant patients from passive to passionate.
Motivation is the desire to act in service of a goal. It’s a crucial element in setting objectives and then bringing them to fruition.
The psychology of motivation traditionally looks at motivation through two lenses: intrinsic and extrinsic.
It’s important to note here that motivation can be fluid. Your job would be a lot easier if every client showed up channeling Buzz Lightyear, intrinsically motivated to follow their prescribed health plan “to infinity…and beyond!” More realistically, many come to their intake appointment eager to get started, fueled by their expectations that they will see quick results if they put in the effort. In other words, they show up extrinsically motivated to succeed. Fast forward six weeks and you find yourself sitting across from a non-compliant patient who is seriously lacking the oomph to keep going.
The key to pushing through the peaks and troughs of client motivation lies in accepting that they are normal, knowing how to recognize signs of an unmotivated client, and having a toolbox of strategies you can implement to convince every client to remain an active participant in their health and wellness journey.
The reasons why patients are non compliant with their health plans are as varied as the patients themselves. Some may suffer from perfectionism or self-sabotaging fear and doubt. Others may need more specific goals than are typical for others in their place. Still others may get discouraged if they feel that their progress is too slow.
No matter the underlying reasons, here are some signs that a client lacks the motivation they need to succeed:
Although motivation psychology tells us that intrinsic and extrinsic are the two main types, there are subtypes that fall within each of these two categories. Here are a few that may come into play with clients on their health and wellness journeys.
A motivated client is an engaged client, which makes them far less likely to cancel appointments last minute or, worse, ghost you entirely. Your clients need to show up consistently to ensure continuity of their treatment (and your revenue).
Engaged clients are also more likely to refer others to your practice (an average of almost three), which is also great for your practice’s financial health. According to the Wharton School of Business, the average value of a referred client is 16% higher than other types of clients.
Motivation aside, there are proven strategies that can help with client retention, so make sure you’re employing them in your practice.
How do you keep all your clients moving forward on their health and wellness goals when some are motivated by achievement and others are triggered by something else entirely? Here are five strategies you can put to use in your practice to get–and keep–every client on the right path.
Motivational interviewing is an approach used in the field of medicine to help people feel more invested in their own wellness and build their confidence to make lifestyle changes. There are four basic elements of motivational interviewing:
A whopping 92% of people who set New Year’s goals fail to follow through. That’s because feeling excited about making a change isn’t enough to fuel someone through showing up every day to do the work and make change happen. Here are some ways to make goals feel more achievable.
Check out this example of a protocol for getting started on a whole foods diet:
Dietary changes can challenge a client’s resolve. Having easy-to-read nutrition materials close at hand can help support the chances of the client successfully implementing these healthy changes:
Clients on a new health and wellness journey tend to focus on outcomes. This can be dangerous because there are no quick fixes when it comes to committing to a new program or lifestyle. Breaking entrenched habits requires commitment and making those commitments feel less daunting can help eliminate barriers to achievement motivation. Even subtle positive changes get the feel-good dopamine flowing, providing the motivational juice to keep going.
Tap into the power of social motivation by encouraging clients to join online group challenges or other peer groups you may offer. This helps clients communicate with individuals who may be experiencing similar challenges, emotions, and wins.
Bonus: If a client can connect with an accountability buddy to help them problem solve and focus on small victories, they are more likely to stick with healthy habits.
Checking in with your clients 1:1 lets you follow up on the goals you set together, keep them accountable, and celebrate progress together. Finding the right balance can be challenging. If you meet too frequently, they may not have had enough time to experience any wins. If you leave too big a gap, motivation killers can kick in.
Choosing the right 1:1 frequency will depend on a combination of what motivates the client, the intensity of their treatment plan, and even their own preferences and budget considerations. It may be helpful to schedule 1:1 meetings for the same day/time so they become an anticipated part of their routine.
In follow-up sessions, be sure to use empowering language, such as using “we” to underscore that you are their partner in this transformation they are undertaking.
Non-compliant patients are those that intentionally refuse to follow treatment plans. Here are some tips on how to handle non-compliant patients.
It’s important to acknowledge that you won’t be able to turn around every unmotivated client. This is perfectly acceptable. Do your best and know when to let them go. Much like the advice you’d give to your clients, celebrate small wins and don’t let the losses impact your motivation!
Change isn’t easy. In the health and wellness field, it often demands that clients abandon behaviors that don’t serve them well, even though those behaviors have been conditioned by cues in the environment and those pesky dopaminergic pathways in the brain to feel quite enjoyable.
By recognizing the signs of lagging motivation early, and meeting each client where they are, you can better uncover the unique motivational drivers of each individual you’re treating. This is how you become a true partner in supporting clients in persevering with their health and wellness transformation, even in those inevitable moments when it feels hardest.
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