Four of the Most Client Repelling Traits A Practitioner Can Have

Years ago – I did a survey of my clients and invited them to share their Holistic Practitioner Horror Stories. I got quite a few – and there were four patterns that showed up.

Trait #1 – Arrogance

Symptoms: The practitioner acts as if they have found “the answer to all things”. They treat clients as if they know everything and the client knows nothing. They talk ‘at’ instead of ‘with’ their clients. There’s often a cynical attitude and they are quick to criticize others.

Wanting to be the authority and have clients accept them as such. Not explaining what they are doing or why. Nor feeling the need to. Expecting the clients to just follow their recommendations blindly no matter the cost (financial or emotional) or what is involved.

The energy behind it is often as if they are ‘showing the client’ how skilled they are with their intuition or healing skills. A ‘one size fits all’ approach. They act as though the client has done something wrong if their approach is not working for them.

They make the client feel wrong if they don’t do ‘enough’ on their end.

Impact: It feels like they are pushing and imposing their world view on the client. Client feels shut down and unsafe.

Opposite: The client feels totally 100% accepted as they are, where they are. The practitioner always takes the needed time to explain why they are suggesting a certain course of action, and why they are recommending the brands they are.

The practitioner is open about their experiences treating problems like the clients both good and bad. They are honest about their abilities to help – they don’t say ‘this works for all’ as the client knows that is not possible and different things work for different people. Even when there is disagreement, the client can FEEL the practitioner’s integrity.

They speak to the client like one human being to another. Their authority  comes from the clients’ experience of the practitioners own history, experience and earned wisdom. The client feels really, really listened to.

The client can feel the result of years of the practitioner’s inner work and to be genuinely comfortable in their own skin. If the practitioner shares stories of themselves it’s for understanding and sharing, not for their own ‘venting’ time.

The Trait #2 – Lack of Sensitivity to Needs and Feelings

Symptoms: Not checking in. Touching without consent. Doing something with the client without giving context or explaining first (e.g. ‘you have a terrible knot in your back. I can’t leave it there!’ and continuing without pause).

Not noticing the power dynamic of patient and client. Assuming that the client wants to hear their opinions, perceptions and suggestions. The physical environment being set up without any  consideration for the client.

The practitioner telling the client some very disturbing things as though they weren’t a big deal. Treating clients as though they are so lucky to have received this unexpected pain or bad news from them in the quest for healing. No empathy to the impact of their actions. Talking badly of other kinds of people to the clients – not considering that the client might fit into that group.

A general sense of carelessness in their actions. This lack of sensitivity can lead to clients being made to feel ashamed that they even have health problems in the first place.

Impact: Clients feel surprised, shocked and shut down. This attitude comes across as rude and careless. Client feels totally unimportant to this woman that their needs and comfort levels are not being respected (or even considered). This often results in a clients feeling humiliated as they do things for the practitioner vs. themselves.

Clients often look to practitioners as authority figures and there needs to be responsibility on behalf of the practitioner to recognize this. Forcing a client to have to advocate for him or herself in the middle of some treatment debacle from a supposed professional is the worst kind of victimization since they have come to you for help and have conceded their vulnerability and your expertise.

Opposite: Before beginning, the practitioner asking if the client if they want them to describe what they are doing as they work or if they just want him to work in silence. When something strikes a nerve in the patient – they pause and acknowledge the intensity of the experience.

The Trait #3 – Self Involved

Symptoms: The therapist spends a good chunk of the session going on about their own issues. They do not invite comments with regard to the client’s level of understanding. It feels like the practitioner takes a lack of progress or disagreement personally.

Impact: It doesn’t feel like the practitioner’s attention is on the client at all. The client’s need for respect is not met. The session becomes more about the practitioner than the paying client.

Opposite: The practitioner is an enlightened witness. They’re a kind and non-judgmental presence. The clients feels acknowledged for their part in the healing journey. That the client is an active part of the healing and just seeing the practitioner for some support. They are not the experts ‘doing onto the client.”

The Trait – #4 “Desperate for Business”

Symptoms: Pressuring clients into booking more sessions (even if they just can’t afford it). Giving away free sessions and then, when they don’t become clients, being hurt and slightly angry that they gave their session away for free.

Impact: she seemed to come across as a bit desperate for clients

Opposite: the client truly feels that their best interests are being held in mind. The practitioner refers out generously when someone else can handle the problem better.


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About Tad

  • Trait #3 is a pet peeve of mine!!! It happens all to often. I love conversation. Provided it’s actually conversation. It’s a risky venture though, so more and more I’m opting to receive the treatment in relative silence.

    The self involved thing … is quite apparent all over society though! lol.

    Loving your blogs Tad,


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  • Sarah Hargrave

    Hey Tad. Very interesting stuff for me, both as a nurse and consumer of holistic health services. Given me some things to think about in how I approach my patients. Thank you!

  • hey Sarah! good to hear from you! and kyle – you’re right. all of these things are society wide. too true!

  • Olivia Hawley

    Hey Tad, here is the post from Facebook for ya…

    Well, I guess it would all have to start with my Sun sign. I’m an Aries and we tend to be not only headstrong, but barrel right into life without thinking first. That also goes with how we interact with others when we communicate. That shirt basically explains it…but I think this way seems best to describe how I am…”I’m not better than you, I can just do it better”. Most of us Aries also have this need to help all of humanity in anyway possible…which usually turns out to be a career in the health field of almost any modality, whether it be a nurse or doctor, psychologist or councilor, or even in the holistic field.

    In my journey, I have learned to be more receptive to how others talk, think (sharing their opinions) and feel. So I actually find that instead of pushing others away, I am now drawing them in. You NEED to have a connection with any client and to be not only respectful to their needs, but also considerate of their boundaries. For a long time, I was totally unaware that in my “need” to make myself “right”, I was pushing away potential clients. I had the answer to their problems and could fix it right away and I didn’t care what they thought or felt.

    Now that I am becoming more aware and conscious of the connection that we all share, I am becoming more in-tuned and connected with others. I know that I CAN help them, but only if they are WILLING to accept the help and to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences. Only in that way can we as holistic practitioners really help those who want/need it and only when they ask for it. It is not up to us to push them towards it.

  • Kathryn Herbert

    Thanks for this Tad. It really is common sense and even for us not in the healing arts it is a good reminder.

  • Great post. Regarding #1, one pet peeve I hear often when practitioners talk is “he/she isn’t there yet”, implying the practitioner knows where the client SHOULD be, and that where and who they are isn’t perfect, whole and complete. I feel our job is to accept where a client is, and then challenge that perception and gently guide them and hold a space for where they want to be and can be. Ok, sometimes I am not so gentle. ;)

  • Kimberley D.C. Schroder

    I love the content, but was rather jarred by the gendered language that seemed to randomly pop up in the last two Impact sections (“woman” and “she”). Everywhere else there is gender-neutral language about “the practitioner” and “they”. My guess is this came from you copying and pasting real feedback from the survey you did, but nonetheless, in this context it seems unnecessary and that the piece would be better served by gender-neutral pronouns throughout. What are your thoughts?