Everyone likes to feel comfortable with the people they are around. It is a natural response. So it makes perfect sense that you would desire that when working with a counselor. While in school counselors are taught that the therapeutic relationship is the most important component to the counseling process and the best way to build a great relationship is through rapport.
Rapport: What it is and why you need it!
Rapport is defined as a harmonious relationship between people while understanding each other's feelings and ideas. It is extremely important that you as the client feel comfortable and safe with the counselor. If you do not experience this then you will be hesitant to fully disclose and be vulnerable with your counselor.
This can be scary, trust me I know. When I was in grad school I decided to go to counseling due to stress. When first starting counseling I was reluctant to speak openly because I was nervous and didn’t feel a connection with my counselor. Once my counselor discovered I like to laugh he made a few jokes, breaking the tension and creating a connection.
Allowing myself to let go and trust my counselor was difficult, but he was authentic in building rapport and establishing empathy. Now don’t get me wrong, this will probably not happen in an instant. It will probably take the first couple of sessions to build rapport.
There are many possible ways to build rapport between counselor and client.
The most important is to be your true self. You took the step to seek out counseling so why not get the most out of it? This means going into the first session ready to be open and honest. I am always authentic with my clients. You get complete confidentiality with your counselor so don’t hold back when you are with them.
Counselors gather a lot of information during the first session. I use the first session to get to know my clients, like they do me. I encourage clients to ask me questions if that helps them feel comfortable.
You can laugh if you feel like it! Jokes are welcome and can be an effective way to reach out to someone. I personally love to laugh and it makes creating connections easier for me. Laughter is not the only way for rapport to build between counselor and client.
“People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they've been strong for too long.”- Johnny Depp
Tears are another invaluable way to create human connection. Don’t worry about crying, it is something we all do and it is healthy to cry. Feeling comfortable to cry with your counselor is a great indication of your connection.
Speak from the heart. One of the best ways to build rapport is talking. I encourage you to speak openly and be vulnerable. All counselors, myself included, know it can be scary. I see your strength for taking the important step of being vulnerable.
Don’t be afraid to say, “I think I want to look at my options.”
It is ok for you to tell your counselor that you want to look at your options. You don’t want to rush into (or out of ) something. I offer my clients a free 30-minute consultation so you can come in and meet me before making a commitment of both time and money.
I strive to provide all of my clients a comfortable and safe space. I believe you should trust your instincts and if you don’t feel a connection that is ok. It doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or your counselor. It simply means you didn’t connect, it happens.
I believe that if you trust yourself and your instincts you will find the counselor that is right for you. If a client tells me that I am not the right counselor for them I am always happy to provide them with referrals to help them find the counselor that is.
If you have any questions/comments or if you are interested in setting up a free 30 minute consultation please contact me by email (email@example.com) or call me at 512-593-2287.
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I love providing people with information. So in my blog you will find posts on topics such as: community resources, media suggestions, parenting questions, and informational posts.