Work Harder Than Your Clients

Work Harder Than Your Clients

Curt and Katie chat about why and when you should ignore the advice to “not work harder than your clients.” We look at bias in goal-setting, managing risk, focusing on the client’s needs, and the importance of continuing education as well as on-going work outside of session.

It’s time to reimagine therapy and what it means to be a therapist. To support you as a whole person and a therapist, your hosts, Curt Widhalm and Katie Vernoy talk about how to approach the role of therapist in the modern age.

In this episode we talk about:

  • The adage that you shouldn’t work harder than your clients
  • The concern that it gives permission to be lazy.
  • The importance of working hard as a therapist
  • Simplification of the concept of being more invested in the outcome than the client
  • Bad therapy practices – bias, lack of client determination, focusing on traditional treatment outcomes, investment in a specific outcome that may or may not align with clients’ values
  • Be present with your client on purpose, working hard
  • Deliberate practice versus complacency
  • Preparing for the situations that may come up, not just one specific concern
  • The “how” of therapy – looking at language, understanding, and relationship with the client
  • Consultation, self-assessment, case formulation
  • Better understanding of what the true workload is compared to your caseload
  • What you shouldn’t be doing to work harder within session
  • The business implications of working harder
  • Dismantling the truisms and oversimplified statements that get passed around
  • Clinical situations that require you to work harder than the clients
  • Working harder than a check box (clinical implications rather than liability check box)
  • Self-management – understanding why you’re doing what you’re doing
  • Questions to consider when looking at your efforts
  • Collaborative treatment planning (both overt and covert)
  • The impact of doing anti-racist work with clients who are not ready for it
  • The importance of identifying whose goal is being pursued in the room
  • The benefits of supervision and consultation
  • How to set covert goals, looking at work outside of session and timing
  • Dismantling assumptions and meeting clients where they are
  • The harder work we have to do is the work we need to do on ourselves
  • Responding to clients with curiosity, professionality, comfort, and authenticity

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Resources mentioned:

We’ve pulled together resources mentioned in this episode and put together some handy-dandy links. Please note that some of the links below might be affiliate links, so if you purchase after clicking below, we may get a little bit of cash in our pockets. We thank you in advance!

Story Re-Visions: Narrative Therapy in the Postmodern World by Alan Parry and Robert E. Doan

Therapy Reimagined 2020:

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Conference

Therapy Reimagined 2020 Call for Sponsors

Relevant Episodes:

Reigniting Therapy: An interview with Dr. Daryl Chow

The Person of the Therapist: An interview with Dr. Harry Aponte

Therapy as a Political Act: An interview with Dr. Travis Heath

Connect with us!

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapists Group

Get Notified About Therapy Reimagined 2020 (and TR2019 Virtual Conference)

Our consultation services:

The Fifty-Minute Hour

Who we are:

Curt Widhalm is in private practice in the Los Angeles area. He is the cofounder of the Therapy Reimagined conference, the CFO of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists, an Adjunct Professor at Pepperdine University, a former Subject Matter Expert for the California Board of Behavioral Sciences, and a loving husband and father. He is 1/2 great person, 1/2 provocateur, and 1/2 geek, in that order. He dabbles in the dark art of making “dad jokes” and usually has a half-empty cup of coffee somewhere nearby. Learn more at:

Katie Vernoy is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, coach, and consultant supporting leaders, visionaries, executives, and helping professionals to create sustainable careers. Katie, with Curt, has developed workshops and a conference, Therapy Reimagined, to support therapists navigating through the modern challenges of this profession. Katie is also President of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists. In her spare time, Katie is secretly siphoning off Curt’s youthful energy, so that she can take over the world. Learn more at:

A Quick Note:

Our opinions are our own. We are only speaking for ourselves – except when we speak for each other, or over each other. We’re working on it.

Our guests are also only speaking for themselves and have their own opinions. We aren’t trying to take their voice, and no one speaks for us either. Mostly because they don’t want to, but hey.

Stay in Touch:

Our Facebook Group – The Modern Therapist’s Group


Voice Over by DW McCann

Music by Crystal Grooms Mangano

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