The Client-Therapist Relationship

Tag: Equestrian

One of the things I enjoy most about my job is that I get to meet so many interesting people. I am in the privileged position of enabling them to confide in me about what’s going on in their lives and their riding, how these things are affecting them and giving them an opportunity to be totally honest with themselves about their goals, their doubts and their fears.

A first session with a new client is all about getting to know each other, allowing the client to open up and to tell their “story”. Through a multitude of questions I will aim to gain and understanding of what’s going on and how that is affecting the client and their whole life, with particular reference to their riding. Some clients have many questions they wish to ask me and others have fewer but this initial session gives them an opportunity to ask me anything they wish.

The aim of this is that we establish what is known as a “rapport”. This means that we build a connection based on trust and mutual respect within a safe and professional relationship. Sometimes this connection happens almost instantly – after all we already have a lot in common in our mutual interest in horses and equestrian sport. Other times the relationship takes a little longer to establish and as the therapist I have to use all of my skills to allow the client to begin to feel comfortable and to trust me.

Usually, I find that the people who consult me already have some idea of who I am and what to expect because they have followed my work on social media and/or heard about my work by word of mouth. This, of course, makes it easier to build the rapport we need to be able to work together towards a successful outcome for the client.

I am fortunate that my background in working as a nurse and midwife in the NHS gave me masses of experience in taking a history and helping people to feel comfortable and to trust me.

Whilst the relationship I have with my clients is completely professional, it is also friendly and I will share some aspects of my own “story” as and where this is appropriate. I believe that it’s useful and important for me to use some examples from my own life, and riding, to explain an idea or to show empathy towards the client’s situation.

Of course, confidentiality is of the utmost importance. The horse world is pretty small and, especially in these days of social media, we will frequently have mutual friends and acquaintances. It is vital that the client feels safe to disclose anything they wish and to be confident that it will go no further. I have a rule of thumb which is that if I bump into a client publicly, and they approach me openly, then I will be more than happy to chat to them. However, I won’t approach them directly as I would never want to put them in a situation of having to explain how they know me if the don’t wish to.

Inevitably some clients go on to become friends, or friendly acquaintances, and this is lovely. It means that I get to hear how things are going for them after we have finished working together directly and I get to see photos on social media of their horses and the exciting adventures they have together.

I think the best way to sum up my approach to the client-therapist relationship is that it is one of FRIENDLY PROFESSIONALISM and it certainly brings me great joy.

Rapport is developed whether we meet in person……


Tag: Equestrian

Do you ever find yourself getting pretty nervous about trying new things?

Does your mind take you to some scary and uninviting places when you’re anticipating this new event?

Try these before, during and after mindset hacks and they really will make a difference to how you feel about the up and coming event and how much you enjoy yourself.

These ideas can be applied to horse riding, other sports, work or any other area of life.

So, last weekend, a couple of my oldest pals and I went on a two day kayaking course up on the west coast of Scotland. It was a beginner’s introduction course and there were going to be six in the group, the three of us and three others who we didn’t know.

Practicing in shallow water

I was certainly looking forward to the weekend but I must admit I was feeling a little bit nervous too. Those old familiar thoughts were creeping into my mind such as “Will they all be better at it than me?” ,”Will I fall in”, “Will I look stupid” etc etc. I’m sure many of you reading this will have experienced similar thoughts. It was these thoughts which were causing that sense of nervous anticipation!

SO! I quickly reminded myself to practice what I preach and to apply all the things I talk about with my clients and that’s just what I did and the result was that I had an amazing weekend!

BEFORE:

  • As soon as you recognise those unhelpful thoughts creeping into your mind you can say “STOP” to yourself to break that chain of thought and then challenge those unhelpful thoughts and replace them with something more encouraging and supportive.
  • Remind yourself that any feelings of nerves are simply feelings and NOT a predictor of something bad happening.
  • Practice visualising what you DO want to happen. So for my kayak course I visualised myself gliding through the water with a big smile on my face and enjoying the company of my friends and the amazing environment I was in.

DURING

  • Remind yourself that you are there to learn. Ask questions and enjoy trying out new skills. Have a laugh when you make a silly rookie error, we’ve all done it and it’s part of being a beginner in any new activity.
  • If you feel any physical tension use your breathing to help you to let go of that tension. So you can breathe in comfort and breathe out tension. Remembering to breathe helps to keep your stress hormones within their normal range and therefore lessens any feelings of nervousness. It can help to anchor feelings of comfort to a word. I like to use the word “drift”.
  • Focus on what’s going on “in the moment”. If at any moment in time your kayak (Or your horse!) is doing what you’ve asked it to do then all is OK. This is a useful way to avoid trying to predict what could happen in the future.
  • If you’re in a learning situation make sure to be honest with the instructor about your previous experience or lack of experience. Their job is to be supportive and to teach you new skills so allow them to do their job.
  • Make sure that you’re not comparing yourself unfavourably to those around you. Some people will find some things easier than you but they’ll also find other things more challenging. Everyone is different and there to learn as well.

AFTER

  • Be proud of yourself for what you have achieved and make sure to focus on all the good things which happened rather than being tempted to magnify any errors.
  • Think about what you have learned so that next time you do this activity you will be ready to take the next steps in the process of learning.
  • Enjoy the sense of achievement, the physical tiredness after working hard and look forward to an evening reminiscing about your day and feeling excited about doing it again.

My kayaking weekend was great fun. I didn’t fall in, kept up with the group, learned about a few different paddle strokes, when and how to use them. I saw some wonderful wildlife and views which will stay with me forever. I was really proud of myself when we had to work pretty hard into a strong headwind to reach the beach where we were planning our lunch stop, I was slow and it was hard work but I did it! It was definitely a weekend to remember.

The sun setting after a wonderful weekend.