In my years in practice, I find building a rapport with the client and being able to stay present during intense moments are of utmost importance. In order to make progress, a foundation must be built where the client feels safe and supported. Below you will find useful techniques in building a rapport and staying present with your client during sessions.
- Ask the client what specific goals they have for therapy.
- Make sure the client knows that you are there for them, so if perhaps they deviate from the goals they were working on and/or want to talk about something else during a session, allow them to so.
- Do not impose your views or beliefs on your client.
- Be nurturing, empathetic and non-judgmental.
- Ask how we will know they are making progress or have met a specific goal.
- Each session, ask what the client may need to explore how the session is productive for them.
- Encourage the client to voice his/her opinion in the session. If the client does not agree or like something you as the therapist says, make sure you create an atmosphere where they know they can bring that up without negative consequences.
- Stay present with the client during intense moments, and during all moments.
Helpful techniques in doing so include but are not limited to:
- Ask the client what it was like for them to say that (whatever it is they shared that was painful) out loud.
- Thank the client for trusting you with the information.
- Validate the client’s feeling during those moments. “that sounds so painful, sad, terrifying.”
- Be comfortable with silence.
- Allow the client to process through at their speed.
- Tell the client you are there for them, with them, that there is no judgment.
- Before the session ends, ask the client if there is anything they need to help them transition back into their day.
- Make sure you (the therapist) know what you need to care for yourself.
- Yoga, meditation, and exercise may help.
- In order to stay present, we need to be one hundred percent focused on the client; make sure you seek out your own therapist if needed.
I find these tools useful in my practice and hope you will too.
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. Trisha is currently in private practice and has been practicing for about 14 years. She currently works with adults providing individual and couples therapy. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Master’s degree in Special Education and a Master’s degree in Community Counseling with an emphasis on marriage and family therapy.