The building of rapport is often considered one of the most important aspects of a Hypnotherapists work, discuss.
Rapport is about the ability to relate to others and develop a trusting and understanding relationship. It is about being in “sync” being on the same “wavelength” as the person you are talking with. It is considered to be the most important aspect in a hypnotherapist work, as a strong rapport built with a client is the key to a successful and positive outcome. For hypnotherapy to be successful the client needs to recognise that you are honest, kind and caring and will then grow to trust you, relax and have the ability to build a good rapport. This will allow the therapist access to the subconscious mind, by bypassing the barrier/filter between the conscious and subconscious mind, the Conscious Critical Faculty (CCF). The subconscious mind, tends not to analyze or criticize and it is where we can heal and make changes.
A therapist with a good connection with the client can induce hypnosis and alter the way they feel, shift limiting or outdated beliefs, dispel unhealthy emotions or negative thought patterns and eradicate bad habits and/or addictions (http://www.uruniq.co.uk/hypnotherapy.php 20/2/15). This is because the barriers between the conscious and subconscious mind are relaxed and are open to suggestion increasing susceptibility to suggestion. As a result a foundation is laid for real growth and healing to occur. (http://www.counsellingtutor.com/basic-counselling-skills/rapport/ 10/2/14). It is, therefore, essential to know how to build rapport with all clients of different backgrounds and personalities. It doesn’t mean that the person has to like you, but it is usually a reward of having built rapport.
A relationship begins with the first meeting and therefore first impressions are important. A person will make assumptions about you using their deductive logic based on your appearance, speech pattern and body language, even before they get to know you. You are the message. (http://www.inspirationalsolutions-nlp.co.uk/theimportanceofrapport.pdf, 10/02/2015). You need to look confident, sound confident and believe in who you are, what you can do and what you can say. If you don’t look confident and believe in yourself, people will not listen and believe in you either. Consequently, when meeting with a client you should dress in a smart but casual dress code. This is because if you dress in a suit and are too smart they may not be able to relax and may feel under pressure. On the other hand, if you dress too casually, it could come across that you are not very professional and they may assume you will not take the person/therapy seriously.
It is important to be well prepared for the therapy session, so that you feel unrushed, calm ready and prepared to be there for the client, putting one’s own issues and problems out of the way, for the duration of the session. (http://www.counsellingtutor.com/basic-counselling-skills/rapport/ 10/2/14). Greeting the client in a confident manner normally with a handshake and leading them to the chair where you would like them to seat, all helps in building a good rapport.
A pleasant and calming environment with nice lighting (not to bright or to dim), pleasant pictures (maybe trees, mountains, meadows and flowers), comfy seating, clean and uncluttered will also have a positive effect on the client. Compare this to a cluttered, unorganised, cold and dark environment it’s obvious which one would make the client feel comfortable. There must be no intrusions, the temperature is ambient and a box of tissues is within easy reach. All of the above immediately gives a good impression and aids in making the client feel more comfortable and at ease and thus already starting to build a rapport.
The relationship must be nurtured and be one of mutual respect. Initially, in the first meeting you will want to fill out a notation form. The notation form can be used to both build and prevent rapport from building. So it is important to be aware of the pros and cons. The notation form gives you a record of your client, so you can remember facts and have a clear goal. It is useful to read and remind yourself of these before any meeting. This helps building rapport as it shows you care and the client is important to you. The notation form can be a distraction at times, if you are busy making notes and writing you could miss important information and this could present a barrier in building rapport.
Initially, introduce yourself and briefly state experience and back ground. The discussion of confidentiality creates a nice bridge to begin and allows the gaining of trust. Establish clear boundaries. The therapist needs to find out the reason for the clients visit for hypnotherapy and what it is they would like to change about themselves. So the hypnotherapist has a clear goal to work towards. To be able to do this the therapist needs to take their time in listening and attending to the client. There are a number of techniques that are considered beneficial in building rapport and the following attending and non attending behaviours show how body language can affect building rapport.
Attending behaviours and non attending behaviours
During your meeting with a client maintain eye contact (but not a fixed glare), as looking away from the client and around the room shows you are not listening, disinterested or preoccupied with other thoughts. This will not build a good rapport. Also do not to sit to close or too far away from your client and your body language should be relaxed and open. This can be achieved by sitting near the person without a barrier (such as a table) and by keeping your legs and arms uncrossed. You may like to lean slightly towards the person, although not too far into their personnel space as this will be uncomfortable for them. To show you are actively listening use encouraging responses like nodding, smiling and affirmation. Avoid reflecting judgemental facial expressions.
Remove distractions, therefore, mobile phones to be on silent and have a clock in your view so you don’t have to look at your watch. Make sure you don’t fidget with objects you are holding or doodle instead of making notes. Importantly, listen to and match the speed and tone of the client. For example, if your client is softly spoken, you will not build rapport if you speak loudly and fast. Also, listen to the language the client uses. It will not help if you are using words the client would not understand. This matching and mirroring will aid building rapport. During this conversation the therapists needs to employ genuineness, unconditional positive regard and empathic understanding.
Genuineness: Being oneself, honest and trustworthy, also known as congruence. It is the ability to relate to people in a sincere and non defensive manner. This will encourage client self disclosure. Unconditional positive regard (UPR): valuing and respecting the client as a unique human being irrespective of how offensive the client’s behaviour might be. Demonstrating acceptance of the client without judgement or conditions attached will facilitates change in the client. Empathic understanding: The ability to step into the client’s world and being able to step out again. Stand back far enough to be objective and not too close to risk becoming enmeshed in the client’s world. There is a difference between empathy and sympathy.
Sympathy is entering into the feelings of someone else and offering pity or compassion. It does not help the person solve their problem and can sometimes be detrimental by given them the added benefit of added attention. Empathy on the other hand is entering into the feelings of someone else, but at the same time keeping a distance. We focus on looking for a solution and helping them choose one that they think will suit them best and help them work towards it. A therapist can improve their ability to demonstrate the above by increasing their own self awareness. Depending on how well the therapist manages their own feelings and behaviour depend on how effective they will be as a therapist. (Learning to Counsel, Jan Sutton & William Stewart, 2002, chapter 2)
It is important that we use techniques in conversation to ensure we are following the information and detail from the client correctly. These techniques help us to remember the information, get in touch with the feelings of the person and make sure that our understanding is correct. Paraphrasing, reflecting, clarifying, summarising.
Paraphrasing is putting the client’s facts into our own words removing the emotional aspects from the conversation. It is useful to do this to ensure that you have all the facts correct and will also help you to remember. This shows the client that you have been actively listening and the opportunity to correct anything understood incorrectly. Reflecting focuses on the feelings that are being expressed by the client. It is good for the client to hear the feelings they have expressed and that they have been acknowledged by the therapist.
This can help them to go on and identify further feelings. Again it enables the therapist to make sure that they understand the client’s emotions correctly and also shows the client, the therapist has been listening. You may also pick up signs of emotions from their body language. Sometimes people describe one feeling to prevent feeling another one and this often takes more time for them to accept.
You need to clarify information given to you by the client. This will allow you to check your understanding of the situation and not to make any mistakes. Summarising. We summarise when we give a brief outline of the main points, issues and themes that a client has raised. It helps both parties to see where they have got to in the session and gives a complete picture. It is also another opportunity for any misunderstandings or assumptions to be corrected. The difference between summarising and paraphrasing is that summarising deals with what has been said over all.
On the notation form it is also important to record medical details about current medication, medical history and to find out about any possible mental health disorders. These questions have to be asked in a thoughtful way otherwise they may prevent rapport from building, as they might not want to give you this information, or not see the relevance. It is usual to take the client’s GP name, and if reluctant to do so should raise concerns. The other information that needs to be recorded is personnel details, name the client prefers to be called. It’s normal to take contact details but important to establish rules about how to contact the client. Is it ok to phone, text and/or leave a message? It may be that no-one knows the client is seeking therapy and a lot of damage could be made by contacting the client without having obtained this information first.
Their occupation and any previous occupation can give a great deal of insight into the personality of the client. Establish family dynamics and living environment, again this shows the client you are interested in them as a whole, but also gives you more clues and information about your client. Establish if they ever had therapy before and what was the treatment for. Ask if they have any area of problems in their lives as this may have an effect on their motivation and self esteem. What are their likes and dislikes? This information will help to personalise their screed and it may be possible to have an idea of their favourite modality. Overall you need to establish the suitability between therapist and client can you work with this person and they work with you.
Building a good rapport with a client is essential for the client to be able to bypass the Critical Conscious Faculty (CCF) and access the unconscious mind. Thus, allowing the client, to be susceptible to suggestions and to achieve the therapy goal. The therapist needs to build trust and respect by allowing the client to feel comfortable and relax. This can all be achieved by creating a good first impression and by providing a safe, trusting and therapeutic environment. Showing the client you are interested in helping them in a congruent way; caring, honest and genuine way. And offer the client empathy in an accepting manner, without being judgemental and showing unconditional positive regard UPR.
Techniques used to increase rapport involve posture, breathing, tone, speed, gestures and body language. The notation form is an important form to use and allows the therapist to build a record of the client and to set a realistic goal and record progress and results. It needs to be used in a rapport building context applying all techniques explained. By using Hypnotherapy in its clinical use is quite simply the most powerful device for personal development and positive change.
1. http://www.uruniq.co.uk/hypnotherapy.php 20/2/15
2. http://www.inspirationalsolutions-nlp.co.uk/theimportanceofrapport.pdf, 10/02/2015). 3. http://www.counsellingtutor.com/basic-counselling-skills/rapport/ 10/2/14 4. Learning to counsel, Jan Sutton & William Stewart 2002, chapter2