How to build a rapport with clients

The difference between a mechanic and, a health professional is that the first one fix cars and the second one, a physiotherapist for example, “fixes” people (we don’t really fix anyone).

Captain obvious! Great point!

Yes apparently it seems obvious but IT IS NOT.

Many therapists are still not aware of it.

Some therapists complete a 2-day-course, where the teacher gives them the key to solve any low back pain. On that following Monday they begin to deliver techniques and to fix people following the incredibly innovative protocol they have received: press here, pull there, stretch this and click that…then put everything in the oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes…

…Et voilà! Pain is disappeared..


There is no difference between a mechanic and a therapist who uses those tools.

The only reason why we are here and we keep succeeding and progressing is because of our incredible mind.


So, how can we do?

Personally, I focus most of my energy in building a strong relationship with my client. Sometimes we see them for just a couple of sessions, sometimes even less. The treatment is very important but comes always after the construction of a successful relationship. Without a proper therapeutic relationship there can be no effective or meaningful therapy.

First of all you have to be CONFIDENT. Extremely confident. The patient doesn’t have to suspect that you are not in control of the situation. You have to exude confidence: the way you move, the way you walk, the way you speak: THE CLIENT IMMEDIATELY UNDERSTAND IF YOU ARE RELIABLE OR NOT.

A person who studies non-verbal communication knows these aspects very well.

I personally use a lot of non-verbal communication techniques to build this aspect: PROXEMICS, GESTICULATION, TONE OF THE VOICE AND THE WAY YOU TOUCH YOUR CLIENT are the four channel of nonverbal communication (Benemeglio, 1986).

Consequently, the patient must be sure that you trust them and that you understand them completely. You have to convince them that you understand their problem entirely.  Making sure that you are not underestimating the problem otherwise, they will not trust you.  A lot of people are alone or they have no one to speak with. Their relatives or partners whom demises their genuine sufferance or do not trust at all. So, if you don’t trust your patient you will loose them.

Be empathetic! Recognise and understand your patient’s ideas and feelings without a judgemental attitude.

You have to be friendly and warm and professional of course. Being friendly doesn’t mean being unprofessional.

There must be a barrier between the therapist and the client but when this barrier becomes too strong you ultimately loose connection with the patient.

Despite of our developed and rational mind we are still animals driven by emotions and we have to take care of this aspect during our treatment.

Hypnosis is an excellent tool to build up a strong therapist-patient relationship and I use it very often.

Even the placebo effect, that is present in every treatment, is much stronger if the therapist-patient relationship is solid.  (Bensing and Verheul, 2010).

These aspects are often not considered by the therapist that prefers to treat the client like a car that has to be fixed. However this is the key for a successful outcome and the approach and the management and consideration of the client is the most important thing…..

…..then comes the treatment…


Thanks for reading


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