Super Powerful Therapy: What Makes This Happen?

A recent client informed me that he’s gotten more from our therapy than any other episode, adding, “And I’ve done a lot of therapy.”  He’s working well with his work stress, and his anger – his main therapy goals. He’s also transformed the way he works with his anxiety and his inner dialogue. His internal voice is kinder. He cleared a lot of serious trauma residue. That enabled him to stop accepting situations that disrespect him, and stop the people pleasing.

This is in just four months. He is grateful. And he’s been a joy to work with, which makes my day.

It’s a blessing when therapy goes well and goals are realized quickly. I got curious – what helped rock this therapy encounter?

Sure, you hope that each round of therapy builds on prior episodes and that the growth continues to build resilience and emotional intelligence. I want clients to learn tools to work independently with life’s challenges (hence my new book). Of course, I welcome clients back for any future tune-ups and quick consults. What made this therapy so deeply healing? And how did it happen so fast?


With the advent of companies like Sondermind and Better Help, let’s hope it’s gotten easier to find a therapist and get started. I discussed how clients can find a good fit with a new therapist and how clients can create a good therapy experience. Therapists can also take steps to ensure good therapy experiences. Consult with potential clients to see if you are a good fit with them. I do these for free over the telephone, using a list of questions I’ll cover. Consults take 10-15 minutes and I’ve learned to trust my intuition about the fit.

Then, do a “fit check” after 4 sessions. Set up the fit check idea at the outset, noting that although you both do your best to suss this out in a consult, three or four sessions will give more info. This fit check can be a time for tweaking goals, session structure, or answering questions. Both sides may suggest improvements. If the fit isn’t working out, it’s a good time to rematch the client with a new therapist. They now have more information about their preferences and needs. I’ll provide referrals and coaching on how to interview a new person. This is an amicable situation when handled proactively.

Three decades of working as a therapist has helped me explain how therapy works and what methods I use. Frameworks that I articulate include the Three Levels of Healing, my mental health toolbox, and the need to practice tools regularly. Early on, I’ll cover the difference between active and passive coping, and how to maximize wholeness and healing with both the logical and emotional sides of the brain (problem focused coping, and emotion focused coping). Again, publishing a book recently that includes all of these frameworks helped my ability to communicate these points.


Speaking of clarity, in this case, the client was clear about what he needed. That may be one of the benefits of his prior therapy – knowing more clearly what he needed and what it would look like if he got it. Therapists need to document progress on client goals in each session note. I’ll also review goals with my clients regularly, to keep things on track.

Therapist clarity is important, and I’ve noted above how mine has increased exponentially after writing a book on the tools I use to empower clients. I can better explain how therapy works and give examples of what tools make a difference. We can look retrospectively at their recent challenges and what helped them manage – what worked, and what didn’t. Often we’ll explore these dynamics and use the tools together in session. This enables retrospective insights and supports clients to learn these skills. That means they have better quality of life when they can tame stress fast, and limit derails.

Therapists don’t have to have all the answers. You do need to be clear about how you think healing and resilience-building work. With any personal “growth edges” (areas in which your skills could be strengthened), seek that training. When I recently did trauma-informed hypnotherapy training, it gave me a whole new menu of techniques and a more informed perspective that included the latest neurological advances. I wasn’t expecting (and at first did not welcome) the complete revision to my approach this offered. Now I’m grateful. I’m confident I can facilitate healing with any trauma a client may bring to therapy.


The beauty of the Stress to Strength model is that it helps ground clients. They gain independence in managing moods and lessening derails, dysregulation, and negative patterns. But they do have to practice the tools. This is another thing I make clear up front – that my approach requires them to work outside sessions for the best (and fastest) results.

Homework doesn’t have to be lengthy. The main muscle it requires is active coping – facing the stressor, and using the tools when challenges arise. It’s normal to avoid stress, but proactive coping is key in healing and living authentically. Yes, the default is passive coping and avoidance when challenges arise. But in the end, avoidance or putting things off creates more stress. Clients start to watch this and get braver. The neurological truth is – our brains know when we’re avoiding things. It sees the red light blinking in the back of the mind.

The reward of active coping and more courage in working with adversity? Clients’ quality of life and inner clarity improve. They are more resourced to do the deeper work of therapy. This is the whole point, right? To clear the lasting impact and distorted beliefs that trauma creates. To develop self-awareness and self-compassion with those inner voices that want to make things safe but prove too limiting to enable a thrilling life.

With practices outside sessions, clients make simple changes that improve happiness, clarity, and fulfillment. This gives them a foundation to more easily see what deeper work is needed to deprogram any negative habits or self-sabotaging patterns. Just like software, clients benefit immensely from regular updates to their inner perspectives and any old beliefs that aren’t serving them anymore.


My client who made outstanding progress in therapy was ready to work, and we were a good fit. My methods and frameworks made sense and they worked for him. Techniques don’t work for everyone. That may take time to discover. This client did homework and quickly became more self-aware and independent in working with his stress and triggers.

The Stress to Strength tools gave him the stress mgmt. savvy he’d been seeking. The deeper work, in this case Trauma Informed Hypnotherapy (he called this “thought experiments” 😊) gave him healing from a very traumatic childhood. The combo gave him a much-needed perspective to separate his history from his current challenges and make more empowered choices in the present.

Once out of the crisis zone, this client recognized the value of therapy for “reflection”. It’s a powerful and objective container for making the most of his life. He stopped his people pleasing. He could see where he needed to stop accepting disrespect from others. After these AHAs, he easefully started to take the next steps to improve his life and work.


What is challenging in creating successful therapy experiences in your practice? What steps help you ensure a good fit with a new client?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *