By Judith Belmont, MS, LPC, author of Embrace Your Greatness
One of the most effective things I have done with clients is offer them a variety of handouts and worksheets for all types of mental health issues, such as dealing with depression, managing anger, communicating effectively, eliminating cognitive distortions, and calming anxiety.
For example, it is one thing to talk to clients about the importance of communicating effectively, but it is another thing to show them how. When I have found that a couple argues in my office, I pull out a communication-skills sheet outlining the difference between assertive, nonassertive, and aggressive behavior, and ask them to identify their own communication style. I have been amazed that almost invariably, the clients are able to identify their aggressive or nonassertive communication based on the handout—and they are not threatened, as the sheet of paper is objective, nonjudgmental, and factual. I have personally seen behavior drastically change in a session once clients are educated on important life skills, such as learning the three types of communication.
Taking the example of communication skills, I follow up on the initial handout with skill-building worksheets, such as those that help clients turn “you” statements into “I” statements. Replacing aggressive “you” statements with assertive “I” statements will give your clients a chance to practice what they have learned. I suggest they keep the handouts in a prominent place, so they can refer to them regularly to learn and practice new skills.
For clients learning cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) skills to eliminate cognitive distortions, worksheets and handouts are invaluable.
Teaching life skills is not telling clients what to do—it is teaching them strategies that they have never learned in school or in life. This proactive approach empowers clients with tools for life and helps them experience change constructively.
Giving clients homework, reviewing handouts, and filling out worksheets with which your clients can practice their newly learned life skills is invaluable. You might remind your clients that taking piano lessons is only effective if students practice at home.
As mental health professionals, we have a unique opportunity to help our clients not only by talking, supporting, and empathizing, but also by serving as a life-skills educator. We can create powerful ways to help our clients learn valuable skills to empower themselves. Here are some free downloadable handouts and worksheets to help your clients help themselves!
Judith Belmont, MS, LPC, has been a psychotherapist, motivational speaker, workplace wellness consultant, and mental health coach. Her message of positivity, healthy communication, stress resilience, and self-empowerment has reached thousands nationwide through her books, consulting, and interactive presentations.