Clergy: Please, Kick the Tires—Shopping Around for the Right Professional Makes All the Difference

Selecting the Right Professional  Makes All the Difference

Selecting a therapist is a careful process. I train clients, clergy and colleagues on the importance of getting connected with the right therapist for the job. I recommend carefully and prayerfully “shopping around” for the right person. What do you look for? Three things indicate successful counseling:

  1. Therapist’s training, background, experience and expertise;
  2. Client’s willingness and motivation;
  3. The relationship “fit” between client and therapist.

If I’m the right person to work with great. If not, I’m always happy to help your members get connected with other qualified professionals I trust that may serve their needs better.

Know who you’re working with (i.e., “kick the tires”)

You have every right to know as much as possible about the professional you refer to. Browse my site. You can read my professional vita at Call me and ask me whatever you’d like to know about my background, the approaches, methods and processes used or just about me personally.

Clergy: My Commitment to You and Your Members—Get Results or I’ll Fire Myself

I was talking to a clergy member (an LDS Bishop) I haven’t worked with before who wanted to refer a couple to me, but was concerned because in the past he worked with what seemed like an unethical counselor. This counselor seemed to just stretch therapy out long and often with no discernable progress, but kept collecting a lot of money from the bishop, saying “it’s a process” without adequately describing what that process was. I reassured him that effective therapy and therapists help their clients make measurable progress and achieve successful outcomes and that the process is describable, explainable, understandable and well-researched. I shared with him the following post I wrote a couple months ago and thought I’d share it here as well since he, like many people, really don’t know what to look for when seeking out a qualified therapist:

More walk, less talk
I will never continue working with clients who aren’t committed to the work and making progress. Time, money and energy are precious resources that need to be treated as such, especially when a client’s fee is being supported by sacred funds. Some clergy have understandably been concerned about what they have witnessed with some counselors and some clients where it seems they are just talking but nothing gets accomplished. Therapy then becomes an open-ended, vague process that more and more funding is going into with no clear objective or outcome.

A pragmatic approach
In addition to being unethical, I want you to know quite frankly that  ”open-ended and vague” is simply a bad business model. Besides being a therapist I am a practical businessman—I run a successful private practice, consulting and speaking business with personal and corporate clients all over the world. Outcomes matter in business. Thus, clients who just limp along with a passive counselor are not good for business and not a good investment of your sacred funds and certainly not effective for your members. A counselor who keeps clients longer just so they can bill them longer is actually bad for cash flow.

The business-sense of effective therapy
Here’s why I don’t do that: Clients who make progress are good for my business since my business runs primarily on word-of-mouth marketing. Because these clients get results, they enthusiastically refer their loved ones to me. A steady stream of clients who are actively participating in a results-oriented process get better, successfully terminate counseling sooner, and because of their positive experience end up over time referring anywhere from three-to-ten loved ones, who then also get results and refer their friends and family. That steady stream of clients achieving successful outcomes is great for cash flow. As you know, word-of-mouth marketing is marketing that money can’t buy and that I can’t afford to lose. Thus, you can see that in addition to my professional, spiritual and ethical commitment to helping my clients, I am highly motivated that my clients make progress and achieve results out of pure and simple financial self-interest.

Clergy: Measure Progress, Expect Outcomes

Dear Bishop/Clergy Member,

I won’t pretend that I have a “Simple and easy 10-step plan!” that will save all marriages. Some can’t be, some won’t be, and quite frankly, some shouldn’t be. The sad, current reality is represented in these grim statistics surrounding marriage and divorce: 50% divorce rate for first marriages, 65% divorce rate for second marriages, and only 25% of those who are married report being  happily so. However, the good news is, the GREAT news is, that 85.6% of my couples not only stabilize and save their marriages but most report a better marriage than they ever thought possible (I track outcomes post-termination with follow-ups at 6 months, 12 months, 18 months and three years). With numbers like these you can see why I love my job.

However, I cannot and will not take full credit for this success. There are many factors that conspire synergistically to create successful outcomes (in no particular order):

  1. The Therapist: Yes, my skill, training, education, experience, and expertise are an important factor. While I have no desire to boast, I will not feign false modesty—I do know my game and I know it well;
  2. The Bishop: Couples who are supported and referred by their Bishops tend to take their counseling more seriously and are more willing to use their testimonies in the process of changing their hearts, learning new skills, and correcting their behaviors. Further, I believe I am correct in my understanding here that through your support and encouragement of them working on their marriage they fall under your mantle and receive spiritual support through that;
  3. Christ: I believe and take full advantage of Christ’s promise that “Where two are three are gathered in my name, there will I be also in their midst” (Matthew 18:20);
  4. Our Leaders: There is the power of the promises the General Authorities have given us on marriage;
  5. Agency: Then there is the power of their own agency to choose to engage in this work to create a truly united and loving marriage. To choose to be fully accountable to their own testimonies.  To choose to be guided by faith even in the midst of seeming impossible odds, in the midst of what appears to be no reason to hope.
  6. Translating Knowledge to Application: Many of the members I have been blessed to work with have strong testimonies of the principles of the Gospel, but struggle in the translation of those truths into specific application in the stresses of daily life in real-life scenarios. That’s where I come in. My work is based on the foundational principles of the Gospel, with the training as a marriage and family therapist I am able to provide your members with the practical application they so desperately seek.

When all of these forces are combined it is hard, near impossible, for the Adversary to prevail. I inform my clients that if they are willing to show up and do the work that they will get better. They do. The outcomes at certain point become a forgone conclusion. It does become predictable.