As I gathered my thoughts to create a mold practitioner training program - we call it Toxic Mold Trained - I found that the large body of misconceptions and errors a mold practitioner can make fit into three categories:
Lack of clinical knowledge
Lack of environmental knowledge
Lack of empathy and communication skills
Since there are 3 topics, I’m dividing this blog into three parts. Today, in part 1, I’m going to dive into item #3: lack of empathy and communication skills.
Why Is Empathy & Communication a Whole Category??
I don’t think I would have conceived of this category if I hadn’t been through mold myself. As much as mold is hard on your health, it’s also hard on:
Your mental health
Your actual brain and nervous system
Have you seen that chart that discusses all the major life stressors: weddings, divorces, death in the family, etc.? I don’t think they’ve ever put mold on that list, but it should be right up there.
If your client has a major mold situation, they will be going through a major crisis.
So if you are helping a mold client, you are also a crisis manager and mental health advocate.
Here’s a caveat about being a mold practitioner: you cannot be all the things to your client.
That’s great in that you know you can and should refer out. But it’s difficult in that it’s usually YOU who they come to first for ALL the questions.
So here are 5 tips in the realm of communication and emotional care that will set you up for success!
5 Tips for Being a Great Toxic Mold Practitioner
1. Listen, but manage the conversation.
Your mold clients will have a LOT of questions and also may feel you are the only person they have to share with about all the crazy stories and frustrations they are going through.
Recently I built in more time on my new client appointments to just have blank space for whatever they want to ask or share. It’s not time I need, but it’s time they need.
But we also have every client fill out an online form before their appointment, and that gets us (coach Micki and me) organized and ready to be efficient.
We also collect their labs and supplement lists before the appointment, and find out their main health complaints.
This helps steer the conversation back on track if it’s getting too far off track. Sometimes I tell the client that we have certain things to cover to create their treatment plan, and then we can have more open time for questions.
I usually don’t say, “Just give me a summary of what’s been going on.” This is an invitation for a rambling 20-minute share that will reveal some things but also likely be a bit of a time waster. So do it if you like, with caution!
I find it better to ask about certain holes in the story from their questionnaire that I noted ahead of time. I am trying to build the story for my use as a practitioner, so I want to be asking the questions initially. I get a lot out of this method.
2. Tune in to the energy of the share.
This one is really important and you likely are naturally doing it, but it may be hard to pause the client or to get the client to shift in the moment. Let me explain it further.
You may notice your client has a very nervous energy and is very preoccupied about differing opinions they have read on the internet while researching mold. While you may want to clarify a few points (during their question time towards the end of the session), you also want to help manage this nervousness and overthinking.
Ramping oneself up with overthinking and late night research is not helpful towards healing. You may want to remind the client that being in a parasympathetic healing state as much as possible is important for healing so we are going to need to replace some research and worry time with mindful meditation and journaling (or similar tools).
The client may not fully grasp or appreciate this concept at the moment, but hopefully they will try a few of your suggestions and realize it does help.
You could also consider doing some calming breaths and setting an intention at the beginning of the session together. This can help get your client out of the mental spin and into a better space to really listen in the session.
3. Acknowledge the difficulty of the situation.
This one is so easy but so often skipped and it was soooo disappointing for me when I was a client.
I was in the darkest hours of my life, spending money on yet another appointment, and yet my practitioner didn’t seem to care.
Looking back, of course my practitioners all cared and all tried their best, but their lack of verbal reflection and sometimes hyper professionalism over humanism was hard for me.
I just wanted someone to say, “This must be really hard.”
So do that! Say that!
I also find that I get less empathetic when I am managing a client spin-out. Recently I offered an Instagram Live “Case Study.” It was the first time doing this thing so I forgot to set up that I was calling the shots and asking the questions.
The client, a brave soul who went live with me and was also very sick, launched into her long, stressed-out story, and it was very hard for me to get her to a place where she could really listen.
I did my best and hopefully after the call some things sunk in for her. It was an unusual situation but it was a good reminder that no matter the setting I need to set the parameters for the best outcome.
So be sure to set up item #1 and #2 properly so you and your client both can be present for the conversation.
If you are getting frustrated, take a deep breath, get back to listening instead of analyzing, and acknowledge with your whole body–body language, energy, pauses and words–what the client is saying.
4. Refer out.
As Hilary Clinton said, it takes a village. There are so many aspects to a client’s mold journey that they absolutely need to have many support people.
Most modern Americans have trouble asking for help, and your mold clients may feel both embarrassed and awkward about it.
In my book, The Ultimate Guide to Toxic Mold Recovery: Take Back Your Home, Health and Life, I provide a list of possible support friends, professionals and organizations. Here’s a partial list:
Mold testing companies
Helper friends and family
Mental health counselor
Functional gynecologist/ PA
Be cautious not to get your energy drained by trying to be everything to your clients. Feel into your boundaries and refer out when needed.
If you have a team, or want to build one, you can consider having staff who can run detox equipment or help clients relax their nervous systems or even advise on home remediation and green living. There are a lot of exciting possibilities!
If you’d prefer not to have a team, you may want to build a resource list, whether online or local…see more below.
5. Create evergreen resources.
As you see more and more mold clients, start making evergreen resources for them. This saves both of you time and creates better outcomes.
‘Evergreen’ just means that you can use it again and again. These can be:
Helpful guides for potential clients
List of techniques for at-home detox
Local or online mold companies you have vetted
Lists of detox-friendly foods
Guided audio or video meditations
Videos of gentle work-out sessions
Your favorite books about mold, nutrition, etc.
Shorter tends to be better with these resources, so just keep it simple. Also don’t let the desire for it to be beautiful or perfect hold you back. Just make a Google doc! Your clients really don’t care if it’s beautiful or not.
Here’s some good news: we will supply some pre-made evergreen guides and questionnaires in our upcoming Toxic Mold Trained practitioner course!
Learn more about this upcoming course at my live webinar, “Three Mistakes Most Mold Practitioners Make.”
This live webinar (also recorded for you) is happening Wednesday, Aug 9, 2023 at 4 PM PST, 7 PM EST.
This blog is just a little taste of the spicy sauce I have for you on this webinar! Hope you will join to learn:
The clinical mistakes practitioners make
The home knowledge most practitioners lack
The goldilocks detox order
A super simple way to set up a detox protocol
*You do not have to be a practitioner to attend. You can be a ‘mold advocate’ of any kind!*
Bridgit Danner, LAc, FDNP, is an acupuncturist turned functional health coach and has worked with thousands of clients since 2004.
She is the founder of FunctionalDetoxProducts.com and the author of The Ultimate Guide to Toxic Mold Recovery: Take Back Your Home Health & Life, available in audiobook, Kindle and paperback on Amazon.