The relationship between the professional and the client/patient can make the difference in the outcome of the services being offered. An effective helping relationship can aid healing of a patient. A trusting, open relationship can facilitate sharing of important information necessary to identifying and solving problems that are interfering with the quality of life of a client.
Rapport building begins with the first contact a potential client/patient has with a professional or the office staff. It is important that office staff from the receptionist to the technicians to the helping professional exhibit a warm courteous and respectful attitude. Keep in mind that the potential client or patient is hurting in some area of his or her life and is likely to be anxious and have doubts whether anyone can help or not. Putting the customer at ease should be priority number one from all staff. If , however, the office emphasis is on "you have to come in and fill out this paperwork or we can't make an appointment for the procedure", a roadblock is set up to success.
Students studying for the helping professions will learn the importance of creating a structure that is safe, accepting, caring, open, and objective. At the initial face to face contact it is important to demonstrate acceptance of the individual even if you do not approve of particular individual behaviors. Clarifying expectations of the relationship and its boundaries sets the stage for effective communication. Students also learn about objectivity and that they must refrain from imposing their own values and views on their clients. They learn how to develop verbal and written contracts with clients that reinforce agreed to goals and conditions under which help will be given.
Beliefs professionals hold about the nature of human beings, about themselves, and about their work affect the helping process and the ability to build working relationships. Beliefs about individuals' abilities to solve their problems and to make necessary changes underlies effective helping. Beliefs about individuals' basic worthwhileness, dependability, trustworthiness, and so forth also assist. Without belief in oneself as an effective helper and in the power of the helping relationship, the professional helper cannot maximize his or her own helpfulness. Such belief comes from knowledge of tested techniques of helping and skills for helping. Experience enhances application of the techniques and skills. Supervision during internships in preparation for professional work as well as on the job in the beginning years further reinforces one's abilities to facilitate rather than hinder the helping process.
Professional--client/patient relationships are guided by ethical standards of behavior. Click here to access sample ethical standards. To go to helping skills needed by professionals, click here.