Tips on how to build trust with clients in counselling

One of a counsellor's main challenges is building trust with their clients. After all, if a client doesn’t have confidence in their counsellor, they are less likely to open up about the challenges and troubles they are facing or get the most out of their sessions.

Of course, trust can’t just be built overnight. Forming a trusting relationship with your client takes time and patience, especially when you’re working with vulnerable children or adults who need a high level of support.

Through work, dedication and perseverance, it’s possible to connect with your client in a way that allows you to have open and honest conversations, while your client feels safe, listened to and comfortable.

Here are our top tips for building trust with clients in counselling:

Always be prepared

Before any counselling session, ensure that you are properly prepared. The last thing you want is for your client to get the impression that the session is rushed, unorganised or erratic, and that you don’t remember what you’ve discussed in previous sessions.

Instead, prepare well in advance and make sure that you are calm, ready and equipped to welcome your client and give them your undivided attention. This is key to creating a safe, trusting and comfortable environment, with no unnecessary distractions. The room should also be soundproofed, inviting and calming.

Make sure your client feels respected and valued

If your client feels valued and respected, they are more likely to open up to you. After all, no one likes to feel judged, a burden, or as though their issues are not important. You can show respect and start building a rapport with your client by knowing their name and situation, letting them speak, and showing empathy.

Have an accepting manner

People turn to counselling for a wide range of different reasons, including depression, anxiety, eating disorders, relationship breakdowns, infertility, difficult life events, bereavements, and stress.

And, due to the nature of counselling, you may not always be able to foresee what your client is going to tell you. With this in mind, you must always have an accepting manner and never act shocked or become judgemental when your client opens up to you. If you make your client feel uneasy, they are less likely to open up to you in the future.

Always be professional

In every counselling session, make sure you act professionally. Counselling is not about building a friendship with your clients but rather building a therapeutic relationship where they can discuss their issues. You must always be aware of your own emotions and avoid letting your feelings impact your work.

Give them space

Finally, you should always give your clients space and never use forceful tactics to get them to open up. This can instantly break any trust that has already been formed and can actually cause your client to shut down. Instead, let them open up in their own time and understand that not everyone will want to share details with you straight away.

It is your job to give them the space they need whilst trying to initiate communication for a healthy relationship at their pace. If this kind of rapport is established, you should have no problems building trust with your clients.

How Chrysalis Courses can help

If you’re considering becoming a counsellor, our counselling courses will help you develop the skills, knowledge, and experience you need to build trust with your clients and support them as they overcome their challenges. If you're looking to learn more before deciding which course is right for you, see how to become a counsellor with Chrysalis Courses.

To find out more, get in touch with our team.