Regardless of the type of therapy you may practice, if you have clients, you must develop a rapport with them to some degree.
Small things such as your body language, eye contact and tone of voice can make or break the relationship between you and your client.
When conducting therapy for a specific issue, such as anxiety or depression, therapists focus on one technique to help build rapport and trust with the client.
But there are many other ways to develop a connection with your clients to help them feel more comfortable opening up about their thoughts, feelings and experiences.
What is patient rapport?
Patient rapport is a clinical healthcare concept slowly gaining momentum in private and public healthcare systems. The main purpose of patient rapport is to improve communication and ensure the safety of both professionals and patients.
This increase in the need for patient rapport prompted experts to develop strategies to implement this essential part of healthcare practice in facilities with busy schedules and huge patient volumes.
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Why is patient rapport important?
Patient rapport is an important part of healthcare, especially in medicine. It is the relationship between doctor and patient that influences the healing process.
This can be accomplished through various methods, such as smiles, eye contact, voice tone and energy levels. Not only does rapport help with healing, but it also helps with a patient’s attitude toward treatment.
It is an important component of patient satisfaction, which in turn affects the success of their treatments.
Techniques for building rapport and trust with clients during therapy
Below are some essential strategies for building rapport and trust with clients during therapy:
Preparation helps in building rapport and trust with clients during therapy. Therapists practice it to be sensitive to the client’s needs and to keep the session on track.
It can also be a preventative measure against potential problems in the therapy process, such as anger.
The technique has two parts, which are preparation and readiness. The therapist should prepare themselves before each session, preparing their environment, refreshments, time and emotional state. This includes being ready to listen, understand, empathize, and in some situations, confront the client.
Therapists should be aware of their state of mind during a session. They must ensure that they are emotionally ready for the session as well as physically. Therapy can be stressful, so therapists must have time and space between sessions to deal with their problems or issues related to work.
Listening without judgment
Listening without judgment attempts to alleviate the anxiety of making critical interpretations of clients’ behaviors. The goal is to achieve deeper insights and more patient understanding by interpreting and listening without judgment.
Listening without judgement also helps clients listen more fully to themselves and others.
Some therapy approaches may use mirroring to help clients reflect on what they have said or done. This involves the therapist encouraging the client to voice perceptions and thoughts that were present in their mind when they made statements about themselves.
Being emotionally engaging
This technique involves eliciting a genuine emotional response in someone else, regardless of whether you are the therapist or the client. If done successfully, this technique can increase trust and closeness in relationships.
It may also deepen your understanding of their experience related to your therapy session. This technique is an extension of the therapeutic counseling relationship and can be used by the therapist or client to elicit an emotional response.
Empathy is a broad term that describes actions to put the client in an open and receptive frame of mind. It may include listening intently, expressing interest in what the client says, displaying understanding and concern for their situation or behaving consistently with values that match the client’s needs.
Therapists use empathy as part of their communication strategy with clients to build their sense of trust so that they can engage them meaningfully in treatment.
As you learn about the treatment process, you can use empathy to help clients make better decisions about their course of action and to address their fears and concerns.
Emulating the client’s speech
Emulating the client’s speech is a way of positioning oneself as an information source. This helps to establish the therapeutic relationship by mirroring the client’s thoughts, feelings and speech patterns. Empathic entrainment helps to put the client at ease with the therapist.
The therapist must empathize with the client’s internal conflicts, frustrations and anxieties to counsel the client effectively.
This technique aims to establish an empathic relationship between patient and counselor by letting both patient and counselor speak along similar lines. It also helps establish rapport through similar thinking patterns/lines of reasoning, further building trust between the patient and counselor.
Humor has been used to convey warmth, confidence and openness. It is often called one of the best tools we have in our toolbox as therapists in training.
This technique is not about making the client laugh. It is about finding a way to communicate to make them feel comfortable and open up to you so that you can assist them in taking control of their lives.
In this communication technique, humor builds rapport through eye contact, voice tone, gestures and body language.
Humor also builds trust by demonstrating that you have a sense of humor but can connect with the client on a common level, which both of you can relate to.
The presence of trust and rapport is essential for therapy to be successful. Having a sense of trustworthiness between therapist and client is crucial for building rapport with clients during therapy.
Which technique a therapist uses will depend on their personality, the client’s personality and the situation. What matters is that the trust-building approach is effective for both the client and the therapist so that there is progress.
These techniques create positive feelings in the therapeutic relationship, ultimately improving outcomes.