My response to my clients’ stresses will depend on the client and the nature of the stress. Since I have trained the vast majority of my clients for a long time, I tend to be knowledgeable about their life circumstances and also know them well enough to know if something ‘is not right’.
Ultimately, all stress is internal, and what is a stressor to one person is laughable to another. Even so, I try to respond to the person’s perspective, in some cases empathizing, in others with practical advice.
I just happen to have two clients right now who are experiencing profound stress because of life-threatening situations of their animal companions.
I will be there to talk to and be the shoulder to cry on. I will not press them on their workouts but let them know it is okay to put that on the backburner. But I will also observe a pattern over the long run and may advise support groups if that becomes necessary.
When they come to workout, I’ll adjust the intensity and modality. I’ll just go with my gut-feel and trust that I find the right approach.