Client centred has almost become a cliché in the profession, we all claim to be client centred but what exactly do we mean?
A client centred therapy is essentially a therapy where the client is facilitated to discover their own solutions – in effect the therapist keeps out of the way. Obviously, that is not what is required in an accounting or tax consultation. We are paid for our point of view; we stand between the client and complexities of our legal and compliance systems.
The phrase implies a focus on client needs, but should that be extended to mean the client, like the universal customer, is always right?
It’s as if we constantly strive to achieve a balance between our own needs and agendas and those of our clients. Move to close to our agendas and we become remote from our clients’ needs: this suits the “preacher” mind set, the practitioner who is eager to prove that they are right and the client should be quiet and take their medicine. The other extreme position is a practitioner who becomes the victim of their clients’ demands: always trying to please the client even when the client’s behaviour becomes abusive.
In both of these extreme cases neither the practitioner nor the client will benefit.
Although it would be patronising to treat our clients as children perhaps we should consider the boundaries we set with our clients? Perhaps we need create an agreement with clients that clearly sets out what we can and cannot do.
Maybe the ideal relationship is where the practitioner sets out the basics, the boundaries, and the client feels that he has the opportunity to share his business or personal financial issues, without reaching for his cheque book in the first instance? Being client centred may be as simple as being interested in your clients. If you can’t be interested then perhaps this indicates you are in the wrong job? Of course, it could also mean that this may not be a client you can support.