Benefits of a Client Avatar In Your Trauma Treatment Journey
Let’s face it, there are lots of ways trauma can show up in your therapy office. Trauma is defined as anything that overwhelms the nervous system. The list could go on and on of things that overwhelm a person nervous system. So, having some ways to clarify your niche and develop that niche is invaluable. One way to do just that is by creating a client avatar, also known as, your ideal client.
I define a client avatar as a fictional person who represents your ideal client. This avatar helps you understand your client’s presenting issues, pain points, common diagnoses, values, morals, viewpoints on life, etc.
The Evolution of My Client Avatar
My client avatar has developed over the years as I have grown in my career. My first client avatar was an adopted child from the foster care system and now it’s a middle age female who has survived childhood trauma. I am almost positive it will change again and again as I continue to change and grow.
Knowing my client avatar for this season of my career has been invaluable. As I was making decisions about if I wanted to continue my agency work or if I wanted to venture back into private practice, I constantly asked myself, “Where would my ideal client find me? There are so many benefits to developing your client avatar.
Benefits of A Client Avatar
As I mentioned above, having a client avatar helps you progress in your career with a sense of direction. You can ensure the treatment setting you are in is the best fit for you. Having an avatar also helps you identify the right types of trainings to peruse based on your avatars needs. If you are in a place where you need to market or sell your skillset, let’s say a job interview, you are clear on the needs of your client avatar which helps you communicate how you would meet their needs. Lastly, knowing your ideal client and working with him helps you combat vicarious trauma. I believe you are less likely to be a victim of vicarious trauma when you are properly trained, prepared, and getting the opportunity to work with the clientele you enjoy.
4 Steps to Developing Your Client Avatar
Getting to know your client avatar is a process. I will work you through four steps to help you start developing your very own. I also created a worksheet which can be downloaded here to help with this as well.
Step 1: Take notice, over the next couple of weeks, which clients you enjoy working with the most. Check in with yourself after each session and jot down some quick notes on what you enjoyed. After a couple of weeks compare your notes and take notice of the general themes that emerge.
Step 2: Identify personal characteristics of your avatar such as cultural background, gender, marital status, education level, social economic status, etc. The more detail you can develop the better.
Step 3: Create a profile for your avatar by writing a story about your avatar. Give your avatar a name and pick a picture out of a magazine to represent your avatar. Talk about the values, morals, likes, and dislikes of your client avatar.
Step 4: Identify the pain points of your client avatar. Go back to your list of characteristics you liked about your clients on your caseload and take note of each of their presenting issues. See if there are any general themes that emerge. These themes will be the pain points of your avatar. Also, notice what co-occurring disorders or issues they may have. This will help you identify additional training or referral sources you might need.
Okay, you are now well on your way to developing your client avatar and the more you know about this avatar the clearer your niche will become to you.
As GI Joe says, “Knowing is half the battle!”
There are many forms of trauma to treat and being as clear as possible about the types of clients you enjoy treating can be very helpful as you develop your niche in trauma therapy. It can also help you narrow down your training options and help you grow in your career. Take the time today to get to know your client avatar, you won’t regret it.
Tell me about your client avatar