Episode 30 | Grounding and Centering before a Client with Very Little Time

Transitioning Quickly

If you're in practice long enough, you'll likely find yourself in a situation where you need to transition quickly between one client and another.

You'll also find that there are times when you need to move from a jarring personal situation into your clinical work, without much time to make a mental adjustment.

In this week's episode, I share a situation that required me to flip into clinical mode with just minutes to spare.

I'll let you listen to the full story in the episode. As a preview, it involves words written in blood 😱😱.

(Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds.)

Some of the strategies I use for quick transitions:

  • 1-3 deep breaths
  • A post-it note with words to remind me of how I want to show up stuck to my monitor
  • Calm lighting and adding a few drops of an essential oil blend to a diffuser
  • Verbally or mentally setting my intention
  • Turning my head and/or briefly focusing my eyes on something outdoors (or going outside for a few breaths if time allows)

Do you have practices that work for quick transitions? 

I'd love to hear about them. Please feel free to message me, or consider joining us in Monday Mentoring for ongoing conversations about how to handle tricky clinical situations ❤


Transcript of Grounding and Centering before a Client with Very Little Time episode

Episode 30 | Grounding and Centering before a Client with Very Little Time - powered by Happy Scribe

Well, Hi there. Welcome to In the Clinic with Camille. My name is Camille Freeman. I am a licensed nutritionist and registered herbalist, and in this podcast I share clinical titbits that might be helpful for other practitioners. So today's topic is how do we ground and center ourselves before we start working with a client. Especially in cases where we might not have that much time to do so.

And I want to share a little story to illustrate this topic in action. This may be something that resonates with some of you and to tell a story, I need to say a few things just to set the stage. Number one, I live in a relatively small house and we have one kind of main bathroom that both my children use and any guests would use if they were hanging out in my house. Here is the scenario. I have somebody coming over to help me homeschool the kids.

And while my friend is helping with homeschooling the kids, I am going to be seeing clients all morning. My first client is at nine. My friend is coming over ten, so there's an overlap. My children are going to be running feral for at least 1 hour and I am trying to get everything ready before then so that she has all the materials she needs to home school. The kids are all set up to entertain themselves, try to get the house clean, walk the dog, make breakfast, do all this stuff.

My client starts at nine. It is presently 8:56. I pop my head into the children's bathroom, the same one that my friend will be using just to see if there's any dirty underwear on the floor or anything that I need to pick up. I'll also like to add here that the sink has recently been cleaned and sanitized like the day before. So I popped my head in there just to make sure I don't need to pick up any underwear, stray toilet paper rolls or what have you.

I look the sink, friends. The sink is fully covered in blood, like the entire bowl of the sink has blood all over it and written in the blood is "Help me" with an exclamation point after it. And I'm like, okay, I have four minutes until my client is arriving and this is the bathroom that my friend will be using and it's covered in blood. Now you may be like what happened. And what happened is my son has nosebleeds in the middle of the night sometimes.

He's eleven and apparently he had a nose bleed in the middle of the night. He didn't wake anyone up and he just thought it would be really funny to spread his blood all over the sink and write "Help me!" in it. Then he went back to bed, forgot all about it. Apparently neither of the children thought it worth mentioning to me as they went about their morning routines. And so here we are at four minutes prior to my client arriving, and I am desperately trying to wash out dried blood from the sink.

So it's not like some sort of nightmare scenario when my friend comes over. So let me tell you that you can get a lot of blood out of the sink in two and a half minutes. Not all, but a lot. So it's at least presentable. And then I'm racing downstairs to get my computer turned on and to get settled and grounded so that I can be fully present for my client at 09:00 a.m..

All right. So this is an example. I hope that everybody this is not my typical scenario. I certainly like to have a little bit more than one and a half minutes to prepare, but in this case, that is what I had. So let me tell you about my modified routine in this kind of case.

I was really cognizant at the time that I was cleaning out the blood from the sink that, you know what, I'm going to really need to make a very abrupt transition so that I can be present and just let this go. So it's kind of preparing for it mentally as I was doing the sink. In fact, I kind of now wish I had taken a picture of it so I could have shown you the state of the sink. Anyway, that would have been nice, but I didn't have the time, couldn't spare the seconds.

Anyway, so thinking as I'm cleaning out the sink, all right, I'm going to really need to ground. And here's what helped me. First of all, I sat down. Fortunately, I have my desk kind of set up so that there are visual cues to help me kind of drop in to my work. I have a candle.

I lit the candle that doesn't take very long. I took up a couple of very deep breaths, and I also got a little bit of aromatherapy going. I have a little salt lamp diffuser aromatherapy scenario turned that on as I was doing my deep breathing and was able to kind of drop in and be ready. Fortunately, I had prepared by looking at the notes and kind of going back through the case the night before. So at least I didn't need to do that in the 20 seconds that were available to do it.

But I did find that thinking mentally about making that transition prior to doing it really helped. I also found that the visual and sensory cues of having the soft light going, having the smell going and the breathing at the same time were all really helpful. And I did find that I was able to feel really present for my client. So I hope that whenever you are working with clients that you're not having this type of situation happen at some point in your life, there will be something going on like this.

You'll get a little bit of bad news right before you go in to see a client, you will read an email that stresses you out right before a client is coming in.

There will be something going on with your family or your garden or something else. That means you're going to need to make a transition of headspace as you come in to work with a client. And I hope that some of these things that I've mentioned here are helpful. The other thing that I sometimes find helpful is that I just have a little post it note that has some of the ways that I want to show up. For me right now that's bright, curious, clear, and authentic.

I just have that right next to my monitor.

So if I do find that I'm feeling ungrounded or that I'm not showing up the way I want to be showing up, I can just look at that and be like, oh, okay. I'm just calling myself back to the way that I want to be, and that really helps. So that's what I've got. My normal routine. Let's say I have 15 minutes in order to get centered and grounded, either between clients or before I start my first client.

I like to go outside, take some deep breaths, just kind of be, feel, notice what's around me, and then I come in. I do essentially do just a slightly longer version of what I just told you. I have some candles that I light. I like to turn on my aromatherapy light lamp, and I like to just do some deep breaths, and I have a little kind of mantra that the work that I do with a client before the client's highest good. So I just try to open myself up to being a channel for what that person needs and how I can best serve them in the time that we have together.

And that makes a big difference. I actually noticed sometimes I forget to do that or every now and then just kind of slips my mind, and I noticed a difference in the way that the work with my clients go. So for me, it's an important part of being there and the work that I'm doing. Anyway, I'm going to wrap up now. I hope that you enjoyed that little story.

I hope that never happens to you, but I imagine at some point along the way it might. Anyway, so I'd love to hear what you do if you have any rituals or practices or things that ground you or center you before you start working with a client, feel free to post in the comments area on my website. Just go to camillefreeman.com/intheclinic and look for this episode or feel free to send me a message, I'd love to hear from you.

All right. Thanks so much for listening. I really appreciate the time that you spend with me, and I look forward to talking to you again soon. Take care.


About Camille

Hi there! I'm a clinical herbalist and licensed nutritionist specializing in fertility and reproductive health. I mentor other practitioners who need help building and growing their practices, working with complicated clients and getting clinical hours. I have a doctorate in clinical nutrition, and I'm also a professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Maryland University of Integrative Health, where I teach physiology, pathophysiology, and mindful eating. 

My pronouns are she/hers. 

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  • So relevant to all types of positions Camille… customer service, health coaching, herbalism, etc. A great piece. I like to do some deep breathing, but love the idea of incorporating a manta into my preparation. Thanks for the great advice, like always!

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