The Client-Therapist Relationship
Category : Uncategorized
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.