Establishing Rapport with a Client
To work well with a client, we need to establish rapport with them.
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 their own feelings towards the client, and how they behave 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 their own issues and problems out of the way, for the duration of the session.
Making a safe and trusting environment, including taking the trouble to make the setting appealing; offering a restful, clean, uncluttered and pleasant setting; providing comfy seating and perhaps a cup of tea; and ensuring there are absolutely no intrusions, and that the room is soundproofed.
Being aware of who the client is, including (for second and follow-on sessions) knowing the client’s name, and remembering key things about their issues (through taking the time to read last week’s notes).
Offering empathy, making an effort to be there with and for the client, and trying to see how the client feels about and sees things (which is likely to be different from the counsellor’s perception).
Having an accepting manner, including remaining unshocked, 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 they have been behaving; and maintaining respect for the person (though not always condoning the behaviour).
Being unrushed, allowing the client time; letting the client stay with whatever feelings come up, without trying to solve all the problems at that moment; and being patient with clients who find it hard to talk about themselves.
Being congruent: being honest, in a well-considered and kindly way; and 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 when someone is building rapport with you ?