Chapter One - Getting into your client's world
The first step to creating effective session content is building the right relationship with your client. Rapport is the word often used to describe this relationship, which is made up of elements like compatibility, trust and emotional affinity.
We sometimes say we are 'in rapport with' friends, family and others that we feel close to or confide in, but this usually comes about over time through two-way communication: shared confidences, experiences, feelings and values. In therapy, rapport has to come from a different place because you don’t have this kind of interaction with clients.
Your clients' experiences and feelings, even values, may be completely different from yours and yet they need to feel that they can safely share personal information with you, and talk about difficult experiences or emotions without you being shocked or judgemental. They may not have revealed some of these things to anyone else before or even admitted them to themselves. This requires you to build a deep level of trust - rapport - quickly and effectively.
Chapter Two - Exploring your client's world
In a therapeutic setting, clean language doesn’t mean not swearing (although you should keep your language clean in that sense too). Using clean language means avoiding leading questions - those that suggest a specific answer.
For example, asking your client 'Do you feel anxious when that happens?' would probably lead them to say 'yes' as long as anxiety was somewhere in the right area. But asking specifically about anxiety reflects what we think the client feels, instead of letting them tell us about it.
When we're trying to get right into the client's world and see things from their point of view, we need their own descriptors.
Chapter Three - Changing your client's world
Clients come to you because there is something in their world they want to change. Some already know what the answer is. A weight control client, for example, may be aware that eating less and exercising more will get them to their ideal healthy body weight, but they need your help to achieve that. Other clients have little or no idea what will work for them, and then you'll need to help them identify the right solutions as well as to put them in place.
Either way, your job as a therapist is not to have a series of 'off the shelf' answers at your fingertips. Just as your client's worlds are different, their solutions may be too. Your role is one of facilitation and empowerment, rather than manipulation and control, so the goal of really effective therapy is finding the changes that are helpful - and practical - for each individual client.
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