What are 'outcomes' for clients?
'Outcomes' is a jargonistic word in therapy and coaching, and other professional services too!
But what does it mean for you, the client?
It refers to the end result of your therapeutic process, the impact on your life and outlook. It changes you because you gain new perspectives - how to see things differently, new options you didn't think you had or feeling so much happier and healthier than you have in a while!
Stress, anxiety, confusion, uncertainty and emotionally painful thoughts and feelings can leave you feeling drained, exhausted, in turmoil or maybe worse, unfeeling and overwhelmed or full of... what? For some it's a lump in the throat that needs releasing by speaking your mind and sharing feelings; it might be feeling nauseous due to threats to your well-being, or demands that you can't fulfil and stress takes hold; maybe you don't know what you want, where to turn or how you feel - just repetitive thoughts, unpleasant 'feelings', fear of the future you can foresee for you and yours, or anxiety because you don't know where you're heading!
Any of that sound familiar?
If so, the 'outcome' for you might be feeling better - more relaxed, confident or peaceful - or having more confidence/greater self-esteem after sharing thoughts or feelings, gaining a clear direction to move in and making decisions that will help you get to that better place; maybe it will change your vision for the future and give you an idea of the steps you need to take to get there, or changes you have to make to you and your life, to change how things will be if they go on as they are.
Another 'outcome' for you as a client may be a better understanding of how you could do things differently and change the negative behaviours of others in relation to you, how you can put boundaries in place to prevent the hurtful comments or actions, learning to say no when you didn't think you could.
'Outcomes' are the changes and improvements that have and are taking place inside of you - mind, body and soul; the different way you see things now and understand more about how you got here and your place in the scenario perhaps.
For you an outcome would be "feeling lighter", "understanding more" or "knowing I have a choice to go or not". It could be that for you, you don't even see the process you've been through (another jargon word is process, that describes the stages or steps you take throughout your work in counselling or coaching, or other work) that gives you something positive and useful at the end of it.
This is the power of being heard and understood, acknowledged and appreciated. Not the words, but the underlying message is what we want people to hear - the awareness, understanding - the message - which you are trying to explain to someone (words, feelings, beliefs, expectations and more).
Listening to someone means you will hear what they say to you, but you will interpret it from what you know and understand of the world - your world, experiences and therefore expectations create your own perceptions. Whether it be people, a business or family members, different scenarios and the same event will be interpreted differently from individual experiences. But that isn't the story someone is trying to share with you, with us! Sometimes they don't use words that we 'understand' or would use ourselves and our interpretation of a situation, event or circumstances.
Theirs is theirs, whilst yours is yours; counselling and coaching allow someone else to be there with you (empathising, see what you see, or hear the message behind the words and confirm it, feel the truth of what someone tells or shows you of their life, beliefs, needs and values perhaps).
So an 'outcome' for you, is improved knowledge, more understanding, more personal power and choice about what is going on for you in your life - to help you feel good, help you know your options and ideas, and what it means for you and your choices and decision-making.
If you are working with a professional, or speaking with someone at home or work and don't understand terms they use, or words and phrases they say to you - ask them, clarify what they mean so that you make sure their message is your understanding! You need to know your aims and objectives so that the 'outcomes' are the ones you need at the end of a process…
About the author
Julie is a client-centred life coach with counselling training too, based in Manchester and Saddleworth. Offering time, space and security to explore the deeper mind and emotions you may not yet recognise, she offers support and compassion, care and a confidential approach where you can share concerns and gain helpful insights for a better future.
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