Finding my ideal clients

Cognitive Therapy | Fox Valley Institute, Naperville IL (630) 718-0717
I’m currently taking a course with my mentor, Joan Brooks, on marketing.  It was something of a struggle for me to begin it, I’ll admit, and I’m finding myself dragging my feet, too, in getting the homework assignments done.  Let’s face it: marketing just isn’t all that sexy.  It’s not the thing that we go into business for when we’re trying to help people.  And if you’re a bleeding-heart like me, you probably find most things to do with advertising and marketing highly suspicious – maybe even evil.

So yeah, it’s a hurdle.

Yet I’m highly aware that this work that I do, as subtle, as beautiful, as healing as it is, isn’t known by a lot of people.  Because the use of touch in psychotherapy has been taboo for so long, Rubenfeld Synergy Method has been kept largely underground: a small community, its knowledge spread by oral tradition.  Ilana joked repeatedly, when she was visiting our training, about her lawyers telling her to “call it a Method,” rather than a “therapy” or anything that could potentially get her into trouble.  The long and storied history of therapists taking advantage of their patients – a problem that continues to this day – has made the entire profession skittish about using touch at all in relationships where mental and emotional health are involved.  It is only now, and slowly, that touch is being re-examined as a crucial tool for healing trauma.

Even as RSM is being built up as a brand, though – as we’re getting the word out and making it better known – it’s still a tough sell.  Part of the reason for this is because when people are seeking help, they basically want to know one thing: How can you help me?

Many of us have gotten so caught up in describing what we do that we’ve forgotten to tell people – specific people – how it can help them.  And the answer to that question is different, depending on who the practitioner is, and whom the practitioner is talking to.

As part of this course, I’m in the midst of identifying the clients I’ve enjoyed working with most and feel that I’ve helped the most, seeing the things that they have in common, and shaping my message so that the clients I like best – and the ones who will benefit most by seeing me – can find me.  It’s a process, but I’m beginning to see patterns emerge.

Namely, the people I seem most suited to working with are – shocker, here, I know – performing artists (singers, actors, dancers, etc.) and what I’m currently referring to as sexual outlaws: queer folk, kinksters, polyamorous people, and others who are dealing with gender and sexuality issues.  Based on this, new marketing language is slowly emerging.

How about you?  If you were looking for help from a body psychotherapist*, what would you hope they could do for you?  What are the problems that keep you up at night?

(*Not actually a psychotherapist.)

Published by Kamela Dolinova

Expressive arts adventuress: writing, performing, healing, loving.

5 thoughts on “Finding my ideal clients

  1. I’m not quite sure how to approach answering that question, as it depends on why I would be looking for help from a body psychotherapist in the first place, and I’m not quite clear on that.

    It occurs to me, though, that this perspective might actually be more useful for you, since presumably there are a lot more potential clients to whom you could be helpful who _don’t_ know what they from a body psychotherapist than potential clients who do.

    So, let me engage the question this way: four years ago I had a stroke, from which I am mostly recovered, but the memory of which still informs how I relate to my body, mostly to my detriment. I know I am happier when I take care of my body, get adequate rest, take control of what I eat and don’t eat, maintain my muscular strength and flexibility, etc., and yet I consistently make choices that are inconsistent with that knowledge. I don’t like my weight, and I know what choices I need to make if I want to lower it, but I don’t make those choices. I experience anxiety that manifests as tension in my muscles and obstructions in my breathing.

    I’m also a performing artist in my personal life, though a techie in my professional life, and while I’m wholeheartedly queer I don’t identify as a sexual outlaw in the least bit.

    So, given all of that (or leaving it behind, as suits you), you tell me: what can body psychotherapy in general, or your practice in particular, offer me?

    1. Hi, Dave! 🙂 Thanks for this. I think you are, in fact, answering the question I’m asking, which is: what are the problems you would seek help for from a professional? What I hear in your description is something like: (a) I know the things I need to do to make myself feel better, but I don’t do them; (b) I have anxiety that manifests physically (presumably both about (a) and about other things).

      While I actually can’t see you, personally (we’re too close socially), if I were going to approach helping you with these issues, I would help you engage in a conversation with your body to find out what has been integral to your body about these behaviors. Probably just about everyone is familiar with the experience of knowing that we should behave one way, but behaving in the opposite way, seemingly against our own interests, over and over again. Often, our bodies are trying to protect us from something, and are doing things in a way that feel safest and most efficient to them – even after the threat is long past, or after the habit of safety becomes a burden that holds you back. By engaging the body directly, we can uncover new possibilities for moving forward while honoring whatever service the body has been doing for us.

      I’m not sure if that makes sense. 🙂

      I also always appreciate your perspective on such things: think you could brainstorm a better, more positive umbrella term for the alternative sexuality/relationship community I’m talking about??

      1. I took it for granted that you can’t actually see me as a client, which is why I figured this might be a useful way to approach the marketing question.

        Re: what-can-it-offer… It makes sense in broad strokes. That said, I think what I’d want to know as a potential client is, roughly, what “engaging the body directly” means, and what kinds of results I might expect from that process that differ from the results I might expect from, say, talk therapy, or a “Getting Things Done”-style approach, or doing a lot of drugs, or just sucking it up and living my life the way it is now.

        Re: terminology… well, I’d like to back out one step from that question and ask: do you actually mean to include folks like me in your umbrella in the first place? Or is the “outlaw”-ness important to the definition of the core of your (individual) practice?

        I mean, I get that you don’t necessarily want to exclude anyone, but assuming you were guaranteed more clients than you could actually accept either way, would you rather they be in the narrower “identify as outlaw” range, or in the broader “and also people like Dave” range? 🙂

        1. I don’t need the “identify as outlaw” part at all; I’m just looking for some shorthand that doesn’t include the word “alternative” in it, because I freaking hate it. 🙂 Essentially, I want folks who are queer, nonmonogamous, and/or kinky to know that I mean them.

          Engaging the body directly means using touch, movement and conscious attention to listen to the messages the body is sending, which we often ignore in our modern culture. The difference between this and traditional talk therapy is that getting a new understanding into your body is a more direct path toward appreciable change than simply getting it into your mind – in your case, your mind already knows what to do, yet you don’t do it.

          (Thanks for having this conversation, btw!)

          1. re: language… ah, gotcha. Hm. I generally use “queer” as my umbrella term here, but I recognize that a lot of people find it problematic. “Individualized sexuality,” maybe?

            re: body… yeah, that makes some sense. Emphasizing the idea that there’s a conversation between “me” and “my body”… or, perhaps more usefully framed, that there’s a conversation among the various components of me… and that certain problematic patterns are a consequence of that conversation breaking down, and that attending to the physical is a way of getting certain conversations started again and thus adjusting those patterns, is a message that would likely appeal to my sort of potential client.

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