How to Read Between the Lines of Your Client’s Intake Answers

The first time I started working one-on-one, I had no idea how to prepare for my private sessions. People were contacting me through a Groupon-like site and once the appointments were set-up, I would have no idea what to do next. I found myself asking, "how do I know what to teach this person?" and "do I just show up and figure it out?"

That was before I knew anything about doing an intake. In case you don't already know what an intake is, it's a way to get to know your client's needs and goals BEFORE you get to the first session, so you can actually personalize the session for them. But more than that, having an intake process gives you a great first impression. It let's your client know that you are organized, thoughtful and professional and sets you up for a stellar first session that will leave a lasting impression on your clients. 

So what constitutes an intake? An intake assessment can take place over the phone, in person, via an online survey or any combinations of those things. Either way, it's basically a questionnaire that will help you gather all the relevant info you need to get started. 

Any intake should absolutely include:

  • Contact information – phone #, email, address where you will teach, etc.

  • Emergency contact information – name, relationship, phone #

  • Goals

  • Any relevant injuries, conditions, pain or limitations (whether emotional, mental or physical)

  • Any current or long-term movement/meditation practices

  • An acknowledgement of your cancellation policy (best done in writing or online)

  • Other relevant policies (like package expiration)

  • A medical waiver (best done in writing or online)

  • Opt-in to email list (best done online)

Once you've got this info, you're headed in the right direction. But the thing can Google "yoga intake" and find this info anywhere. What other yoga instructors WON'T tell you, is that this isn't the end of the intake. At this point, you're still missing the most critical pieces of information. 

I call this information, the "Between-the-Lines Intake" questions. This includes asking:

  • Why is this person coming to yoga? Why not another modality? 

  • How open to sharing is this client?

  • Do they seem optimistic, pessimistic or neutral about their mind/body/ability to achieve their goal?

  • Did they explain any challenges they anticipate?

  • How chatty does this client seem? 

  • Did they reveal anything about their work life/lifestyle?

  • Can you infer some of their emotional, mental or physical needs that they didn’t mention?

This "Between-the-Lines Intake" will give you a more accurate picture of who your client is, what their needs are and WHY they are seeking you out. It will help you to make a more clear plan of what concepts and movements you want will introduce to them because you will have a much clearer picture of what benefits might be most valuable to them. And the BTL intake, will also help you to for-see some of the challenges you and the client might be presented with in the session.