Today we’re going to learn about Building Relationship with our clients.
I’m guessing many of you have heard this before, but having a strong, trusting, and secure relationship with your clients is one of the keystones for therapeutic success.
In Irvin Yalom’s therapeutic classic The Gift of Therapy, he emphasizes this point by stating, “…nothing takes precedence over the care and maintenance of my relationship to the patient, and I attend carefully to every nuance of how we regard each other.” [Yalom, Irvin. The Gift of Therapy (p. 22). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition]
The relationship matters. But even we as therapists can have difficulty establishing, nurturing, and mending our relationship with our clients.
Too busy helping.
We want to help so badly, it’s in our genes. But sometimes that gets in the way of our relationship with our client and it suffers.
Some other negative influences on the therapist-client relationship include:
- Too focused on a diagnosis
- Problem-solving tendencies
- Insecurity regarding how helpful you’re being
- Lack of open communication and relational assessment
There’s a lot that gets in the way of our relationship to our clients. Don’t feel bad if you feel disconnected from them or struggle to build rapport or have client’s ghosting you from time to time.
We’ve all been there and it’s okay for growth to be slow.
There’s something we can do even before we see our clients that can help us start on the right foot.
Identify how relationships have been important for your own healing
Empathy is a key building block for relationship and to deeply empathize with your clients you need to tap into your own emotional experience first.
- What relationships do I cherish the most?
- When was a specific time I was in great need? How had those relationships helped me then?
- What qualities in those people did I appreciate and admire the most? (Side note: A study conducted by Kasarabada, Hser, Boles, and Huang found that the qualities that predicted the highest treatment retention rate were trust, empathy, genuineness, openness, and nurturance)
When I burned out last year, the two people that helped me the most were my wife and my supervisor. They were compassionate, understanding, and patient with me. I didn’t feel like a problem to them but a person they cared for. I needed their listening ear as well as their humor to bring perspective back to my situation.
In turn, now I never want my clients to feel like a list of problems. I want them to feel felt, understood, and that no matter what they say I will be there with them.
I also want to make them laugh from time to time because we all need to come up to surface from time to time, especially when life is dark and heavy.
Now, you should have a more realized sense of why relationship FOR YOU is so important.
That’s all for today.
Until next time,
Whenever you’re ready, here are 2 ways I can help you…