Your client is overwhelmed…What do you do?


We’ve all had the experience of feeling overwhelmed. It’s not a pleasant state to be in. There are a million things to do, but we can’t seem to be able to pick one and get it done.

Watching a client go through this is frustrating. He may sit there quietly not being able to describe what is going on at all. Or she may be talking so rapidly that the sentences run together in an ever increasing blur, which only increases the overwhelm.

There are different approaches to dealing with a client in this situation. Using visuals can help people quickly get past the overwhelmed stage and back on track. Let’s talk about just one approach so that we don’t get, err, overwhelmed with ideas.

Before we begin to talk about the method, there is something you can do to help your client get centered right now.

Just Breathe

Breaking News…Humans need to breathe! Yes it’s true, people need to breathe. What is also true is that by having your client take a few slow and deliberate breaths will help them begin to calm down. This is a good first step and helps prepare them for seeing things in a new light.

Start at the End

A good way to help people get past feeling overwhelmed is to direct their attention to a more hopeful scenario. Think of it as a process for creating the magical fairy tale of their life. You can accomplish a few things with this approach.

  1. Distract them from their current situation
  2. Get them thinking about the bigger picture
  3. Incentivize them to work through what is bogging them down
Finding Center

Once upon a time…

Now that your client is taking some calming breaths, you’re going to set up an exercise using visuals to help them see past their current chaotic state. If you are a VizPeeps member try using either the Exploring My Options or Exploring Passion image deck. If you don’t own any VisualsSpeak image decks, you’ll have to rely on whatever you have on hand.

Next, you’ll need to choose a prompt that gets your client to think in terms of their ideal future scenario. Try these or create variations of them:

  • What would your ideal life look like?
  • If you had no other concerns, what would a perfect life look like?

Tell your client the prompt and give them five minutes to choose and arrange their images.

Listen closely as I tell you my story

Have your client describe to you the story they created around the prompt and images they chose. You need to listen closely for the key points and any of your client’s core values that arise from this conversation. These are going to be the clues you’ll need to get them out of feeling overwhelmed.

Go back to the beginning

The images will work their magic in helping your client see a better future. This is the part of the process where you get the opportunity to work your magic in helping them break down the steps they need to take to get past feeling overwhelmed and heading towards their ideal future.

How do you help your clients get past feeling overwhelmed?

I would love to hear your ideas on how you help people get through these difficult situations. Please share them in the comments section. Thanks

3 Ways to Use Visual Tools With Your Clients

How can you use visual tools with your clients? Lots of ways, but here are three to get you started.

Use visual tools for the assessment/intake


Using visuals at the first meeting is a great way to get to know your new client and get some concrete ideas of what their goals are. Usually people will share more of what they want and what makes them tick when images are introduced into the session. This will save you a lot of time and help you quickly get clear on who you’re working with.

Don’t forget that when people use images to tell their stories and share their goals that the visuals are going to help them (and you) access their core beliefs and values. When you can help them align their goals with their core, the chances for a successful outcome just went up.

Try prompts such as:

  • What do you want from our time together?
  • What are your goals for our time together?

Checking in along the way

Summer Solstice

Using images along the way can help you to move your client to the next step of their process. Creating a collage can help them sharpen and/or reevaluate their progress. This is a good way to do some reflecting on what they have accomplished and what still needs to be done.

Try prompts like:

  • Where was I before we started/where am I now/where do I want to be?
  • What supports me/What is holding me back?

Ending your time together

Along a Path

You and your client have worked together for a while. It’s now time to create an ending for all the great work you’ve done. It’s time to celebrate successes and to look ahead. There are a number of ways to approach this ending phase using visual tools.

Reflecting back on accomplishments – Having clients create a collage about your time together can help them see more clearly all of their accomplishments and how far they have come. This can help cement a sense of all the great work they have done.

Next steps – Visual tools are ideal for helping people to decide on their next steps. Where are they going? What do they need to do now? What resources do they need? Use them at this phase to create action plans.

Dreaming the ‘impossible’ – Images can help people at this stage to dream big. Use them to help people vision something beyond what seems attainable and into the universe of possibilities. There doesn’t have to be any ‘reality’ to their vision just an idea that they can dream the ‘impossible’ and by doing so put it in the realm of what is possible.

What has been your experience?

At what points do you use visual tools with your clients? How do they help your clients in various phases of your work together?