After over a year of being a personal trainer and getting to know the in's and out's of the job, I have come to a very important realization. I am not a doctor.
This is pretty obvious. I definitely did not go to any form of medical school and I do not have M.D. or Dr. in my name. Yet people assume I have all the answers that a doctor or a psychiatrist may have.
I am a very social and innately caring person. I think that these qualities make me a great personal trainer for people who really want a personal, friendly experience. With some clients, the line between friend and trainer gets blurred. Sometimes this is okay and actually makes the training sessions more effective.
Sometimes it lets the client take certain liberties with me. Cancelling sessions last minute, sharing information that is far too personal, and finally, sharing information that will ultimately affect my ability to train them.
Recently I had a client share with me a number of times that they were really struggling with their mental health, to the point of causing permanent, and irreversible harm (to put it as politely as possible).
I have known for a long time that this client was one that needed a few extra tips beyond how to squat and deadlift properly. One of my first pieces of homework was to have the client write down 1 thing they were grateful for for 4 days. This exercise was actually very helpful to them, but since then we have always had to monitor their mental health and I've tried to make our sessions fun and positive so as not to add to the melancholy of their life.
Now, as their struggles have escalated to a point that I am not trained to deal with, we have come to a bit of an impasse.
This past week I had to make the decision to have the difficult conversation with them. Put their PT payments on hold and use the money for a psychiatrist, or cancel their membership altogether because they are in no place to be training, and if we continue the way we are, then our client-trainer relationship will be affected.
There are a few lessons to be learned here.
1. If you are a personal trainer, remember that the golden rule is to refer. If you don't have the answer or the issue is too advanced for your trainer, then refer. You're better off referring to a specialist then trying to "fake it 'til you make it"
2. Know your own boundaries. With my own history of mental health issues and knowing that I will try and help and fix the problems of those I care about, I knew that this particular issue could have detrimental effects on my own life outside of work.
The old saying "know your limit, play within it" certainly applies here.
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Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's discoveries as she develops her skills as a marketer, and finds new and sustainable ways to stay healthy.