The Importance of Building Rapport

I always thought that was a strange word, rapport. What does it mean? The dictionary says rapport is “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well”.

As a therapist, rapport is a crucial element to have if you want your sessions to be successful. Think about when you were a kid. Actually go even younger, imagine being a baby. Strangers probably scared the crap out of you (they may still). Now imagine being a baby and brought into a room you’ve never seen, with a huge adult suddenly in your face trying to interact with you as if you were the best of friends. Terrifying. This is why building rapport is so important. If you don’t have trust, you won’t get anywhere. However, gaining trust isn’t always easy. It might be a slow build-up, depending on the person. Sometimes it takes a really long time to build rapport, sometimes a bond is formed in one day. Sometimes even after you’ve built rapport, you may need to re-build it. This could be because it’s been a long time between sessions, or maybe something’s changed about the session. Maybe there’s a second therapist with them, maybe the environment is different. There are multiple factors that could contribute to that trust/bond fluctuating.

For an occupational therapist, a relationship with your patient isn’t the only relationship you need to put effort into. Building a relationship with the family could be equally important. When everyone is on the same page, and everyone is trusting of one another, the results are magical.

What are some traits someone you know had that made it easier for you to build a relationship with them? Let me know in the comments!

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