Quick Tips for Therapists

How a Smartphone Can Help Your Clients with Home Practice

By Richard Brouillette, LCSW


We’ve all had clients who don’t get around to working on their home practice. Some connect the therapy process to pain, or fear, or the unknown, or just difficult subjects. It may already be a lot to show up to session. The usual coaching around improving the odds of completing home practice can still feel difficult for clients, even a shameful ordeal (despite the therapist’s best efforts).

Smartphone Solution

It’s always good to start with supporting your client in expressing any difficult feelings they have around home practice, and clarifying the importance of home practice for therapy success (it’s not obvious to some clients new to cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT]).

Once that’s done, you can help your client structure their time and set up smartphone notifications as reminders.

Here are some quick tips:

· Help your client select days and times of day when they are likely to still have the energy and motivation to do home practice, but aren’t tired at the end of a workday. They should also be realistic about how quickly they can shift mental gears in and out of home practice.

· Have them pick a day and time in session with you, so it’s done. That way, in the next session you can follow up on how it went. This way, they are also making a commitment to you and themselves, and know they are accountable for it.

· Have them set up a notification in their smartphone, so they are getting a reminder about home practice. Also, if they use a planner or calendar, make sure they are blocking off time.

· Start small. Make sure you set your client up for success with a smaller task, which they will likely complete.

Richard Brouillette, LCSW, is a certified schema therapist who works with entrepreneurs, creatives, and professionals seeking to overcome anxiety, find fulfillment, and improve their relationships. Brouillette has been published in The New York Times and PsychCentral, and is a Psychology Today expert opinion blogger. Brouillette is a former Secretary of the Executive Board of the International Society for Schema Therapy.

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Quick Tips for Therapists