Establishing Rapport with a Client
To work well with a client we need to establish rapport with him or her.
Rapport is important, whatever model of counselling the counsellor is working with.
Unless a client feels a sense of rapport, they will be unlikely to be able to work well with the counsellor.
Rapport means a sense of having connection with the person.
Rapport will be helped and facilitated by how the counsellor manages his or her own feelings towards the client, and how s/he behaves with the client. For example, the counsellor needs to think about…
Being well prepared for the session, unrushed, calm ready and prepared to be there for the client, putting one’s own issues and problems out of the way, for the duration of the session.
Making a safe and trusting environment: Taking trouble to make the setting appealing, offering a restful, clean, uncluttered, pleasant setting, comfy seating, perhaps a cup of tea, absolutely no intrusions, soundproofed and discreet.
Being aware of who the client is. for second and follow on sessions, knowing the client’s name, remembering key things about their issues. (Taking time to read last week’s notes)
Offering empathy, making efforts to be there with the client, and for the client, trying to see how the client feels about things and how the client sees things, (which is likely to be different from the counsellor’s perception).
An accepting manner: Remaining un-shocked, whatever the client brings Being non-judgemental, however much the client’s behaviour surprises or appals us. Offering unconditional positive regard (UPR) to the client, however s/he has been behaving. Maintaining respect for the person (though not always condoning the behaviour).
Unrushed, allowing the client time. Allowing the client to stay with whatever feelings come up, without trying to solve all the problems at that moment. Being patient with clients who find it hard to talk about themselves.
Being Congruent: Being honest, in a well-considered and kindly way. Not being ‘brutally honest’ in a confrontational or rude way, but gently challenging dysfunctional beliefs and behaviours, when the time is right.
If Rapport is established, the client will grow to trust the counsellor, and a good foundation is laid for real growth and healing to occur.
How do you know known someone is building rapport with you ?