Some clients are kind and grateful. Others are motivated and focus on the learning and growth process that they experience while working with you. Still others are toxic individuals who almost seem happy with the fact that they are so miserable.
I did an internet search for the definition of the word "toxic". The Ohioline defines it as "Any substance that can cause death, abnormalities, disease, mutations, cancer, deformities, or reproductive malfunctions in an organism".
Wow! That sounds really serious but if we consider that the "substance" is a person's attitude and behaviours, then it is obvious that having a toxic client can not only harm you and your business but actually lead to death.
I think of career people who work in a negative environment and end up with ulcers and other stress-related problems. Well, a client can also cause problems for you that will result in serious harm to you as an individual and your client.
You need to be very careful about how much to tell toxic clients and how you work with them. First of all, know that you can terminate the relationship at any time. Just make sure that you do it in a clear manner and document the encounter. You might say "I don't think that this is very helpful for you and am recommending that you seek services with (name another professional or organization).
Also, make sure that you have a really good support group who you can consult with regarding the situation. You might want to talk with a practice advisor recommended by your regulatory body.
If the person decides to file a formal report against you, then you will be asked for your file notes and may even be required to attend an interview with an appointed investigator. Because of this, it is extremely important that you not only have taken appropriate steps with the client but have also made clear, detailed notes about what you did and why you did that.
It is much easier to avoid problems than to try to clean them up. Trust yourself. As soon as you feel those "nigglies" inside that are warning flags, you need to respect them and pay attention. Seek help. Make a plan. Enact it immediately and do your documentation.
Also, remember that you can only do your best. You cannot control what the other person does so just deal with it and know that you have handled this in an ethical and appropriate manner.
Dr. Linda Hancock, the author of “Life is An Adventure…every step of the way” and “Open for Business Success” is a Registered Psychologist who has a private practice in Medicine Hat. She can be reached at 403-529-6877 or through email firstname.lastname@example.org