Mentorship Model

Build a future worth protecting

Personal Appearance

Week 1: Initial Assessment

Defining Objectives

How does the client see himself? What aspects of his personal appearance is he most motivated to improve?

  • Client will be able to identify how his personal appearance has impacted his presenting challenges and speak with specificity about which aspects of his personal appearance have had the most pronounced impact
  • Client will express some openness to his provider’s assessment of the client’s personal appearance and how that may or may not have had an adverse effect on the client’s life and presenting challenges in treatment
  • Client will be able to create an action plan in collaboration with his provider to address his personal appearance goals (i.e. more self-confidence, greater success in dating or the professional world, etc.)

Taking Action

What will you do to prompt reflection and self-evaluation while maintaining a supportive environment?

  • Provider will promote a discussion around the client’s perception of his appearance. Provider will prompt the client to reflect on how his personal appearance has impacted his functioning as a whole and on the outcomes he has experienced in areas that are especially important to the client
  • Provider will obtain consent to provide an assessment and offer feedback around how the client presents. Provider will offer their assessment of what aspects of the client’s personal appearance might be creating challenges for him while remaining encouraging, emphasizing areas that can be improved with effort and attention
  • Provider will guide the client towards setting goals for a three week module designed to address personal appearance objectives
Questions to Consider Resistant Client Corner
  • What aspects of this client’s personal appearance are within his control?
  • What low-hanging fruit or easy wins (hygiene, hair care, wardrobe, etc.) can you identify to help the client build momentum?
  • How can the client improve his personal appearance in a way that feels authentic to him?

Many young men are not educated on the realities of personal care and, faced with only unrealistic media standards to judge themselves against, choose instead to disengage. Framing conversations as general knowledge rather than personal critiques (i.e. “Using a milder face wash helps keep skin from getting too dry” vs. “Your skin is flaky and red”) can help manage resistance in this domain

When to Check In

As in other modules, your role as a provider at this stage is primarily to gather information. The more insight you have into the client’s personal treatment goals as well as his particular life circumstances, the more effective subsequent sessions will be. Consider ways to manage resistance based on the client’s personality and motivations before looping in your supervisor.

  • Be ready for clients who do not see their personal appearance as an issue, who express that they “don’t care” or “ can’t be bothered”, or who view feel completely helpless in terms of improving their appearance
  • Don’t pivot too quickly away to another goal when faced with resistance. Instead, reflect on when and where resistance manifests in order to better anticipate it in future sessions
  • Consult with a supervisor if the resistance is more than you know how to handle, but in session, remain curious, affirm, reflect and summarize what the client is saying to encourage self-awareness
  • If you’re struggling with knowing how to be both supportive and direct with your feedback

Week 2: Trial & Error

Defining Objectives

What changes will the client implement to improve his personal appearance?

  • Client will be able to draw additional connections between his personal appearance and his ability to achieve his goals, hopes, and dreams for the future
  • Client will express greater openness towards collaborating with his provider to strategize about specific behavioral changes could yield improvements to personal appearance 
  • Client will work with his provider to behaviorally change one area related to personal appearance during the upcoming week

Taking Action

What will you do to facilitate those changes?

  • Provider will continue to promote a discussion that ties personal appearance back to the client’s guiding motivations and overall desire for seeking treatment
  • Provider will work with client to identify and initiate change in one area related to personal appearance that the client is motivated to change
Questions to Consider Resistant Client Corner
  • Are there any more subtle forms of personal presentation that may be impacting the client, like posture or eye contact?
  • Where can the client integrate habits into his routine, like skin care or regular hair cuts, that require consistent attention to maintain?

Consider accompanying the client to the barbershop or engaging in an in-home wardrobe refresh to help a resistant client get over the initial barrier to change.

For a client who perceives work in this domain to be “shallow” or “fake,” encourage the client to reflect on what internal values he wants his outward appearance to convey

When to Check In

Personal appearance can be a very sensitive topic. Identifying aspects of the client’s personal appearance that can improve requires a high level of trust and vulnerability. Consider checking in with a supervisor if:

  • The client leaves the session feeling badly about himself or engages in overtly negative self-talk
  • You observe or suspect particular fixations, like skin-picking, hair-pulling, or an extreme aversion to bathing, that might point to a more global issue or relate back to the client’s initial diagnosis
  • You’re confused on how to be able to connect this to his work clinically, or need help bringing this to the attention of the clinician on the case

Week 3: Gaining Confidence

Defining Objectives

What will the client do to build on his progress?

  • Client will continue to reflect an remain cognizant of how changes to personal appearance connect to overall presenting challenges pertaining to treatment or client’s expressed motivations for change
  • Client will be able to identify the ways in which the behavioral changes he has made with respect to his personal appearance have had positive impacts in other areas of his life
  • Client will be able to make further connections between his personal appearance and his guiding motivations for treatment
  • Client will feel supported and encouraged by his provider, expressing A) greater optimism and self-direction with regard to implementing further changes or B) a desire to remain consistent with the changes previously discussed

Taking Action

How will you support the client’s ongoing development in this domain?

  • Provider will continue to connect the interventions and behavioral changes being made back to the client’s presenting challenges for treatment or client’s own motivations to engage in treatment
  • Provider will continue to continue to affirm the client’s growth and willingness to engage in treatment while A) encouraging additional behavioral changes towards related to personal appearance or B) encouraging consistent adherence to the changes already identified (quality and quantity of changes hopefully done consistently)
  • Provider will emphasize quality over quantity, encouraging the client to attain consistency with a select number of changes rather than asking the client to change everything at once
Questions to Consider
  • How might the client’s personal appearance be related to challenges in other domains, like sleep, physical activity, or time management?
  • How does the client feel about the change(s) he has made thus far? Have his attitudes towards personal appearance and care changed appreciably?

When to Check In

At this point, the client has hopefully experienced at least some success in improving their personal appearance. Success might look like simply bathing regularly or getting a haircut as long as you and the client share a definition for success in the first place.

  • If no progress has been made, discuss the client’s particular pain points with your supervisor to identify where in the process the client is getting stuck
  • Embarrassment or shame at a perceived failure can often be channeled into anger or indignation in adolescent males. Debrief with your supervisor if efforts to encourage the client to implement changes in this domain lead to a breach or step back in therapeutic relationship

Week 4: Lessons Learned

Defining Objectives

What will the client take away from this module?

  • Client will continue to feel supported by his provider as he reflects on the changes he has made in his presentation and personal appearance
  • Client will continue to engage in the behavior modification or changes he has been focusing on and and recall discussions around personal appearance from previous weeks
  • Client will be able to express a summary of what changes have had the most impact for him in his life or self-concept
  • Client will walk away with a sense of confidence, knowing that he is both capable of making changes and that improving his personal appearance has improved his outlook with regard to the challenges he initially identified

Taking Action

How can you position the client for success moving forward?

  • Provider will continue to engage empathetically with the client, being sure to offer affirmations and validations for efforts made across treatment
  • Provider will continue to engage in behavior modification with the client, tying interventions back to the client’s original motivation for treatment 
  • Provider will promote a discussion with the client that consolidates his learning across four weeks in a summative form
  • Provider will talk through how the changes made in treatment may be worth continuing, relating it back to the broader theme of why the client may have sought treatment or what he wants to achieve in the future
Questions to Consider
  • How much time and energy will need to be devoted to personal appearance in future sessions to help the client stay on track?
  • What systems or frameworks can you help the client to construct (i.e. a checklist on his bathroom mirror or a standing appointment at a local barbershop) to better support the client in developing this area on his own?

When to Check In

Wrapping up work in modules is a skill unto itself.  If you’re feeling uneasy about planning for the end of the work, or aren’t sure about how to culminate one’s learning in this domain, you may want to consider checking in.  Consider these situations:

  • If you feel like progress has been slow and there isn’t much to reflect on
  • Your client has been dodging you on booking meetings, and you sense resistance
  • Your client continues to struggle with this domain, so despite progress, you’re concerned about his ability to continue to make it and don’t know how to wrap up that kind of discussion