I once had a supervisor, in an attempt to help me polish my beside manner, provide me with the example of a high school counselor. She asked me to imagine my own high school counselor. Then, she asked me if I would feel compelled to open up to that counselor if I didn’t like her (no!).
Unfortunately for me, my supervisor was not just genuinely interested in soliciting my opinion on high-school staff members. In her example, I happened to be the unapproachable counselor high-school students avoided at all costs (say what?!).
Being the lousy high-school counselor was not a role I had any desire to play. In fact, my entire life, I prided myself on being a highly personable person.
I was, and am, the obnoxious type of person that makes best friends with the grocery store clerk in a twelve second time span over our love for grapefruit.
Still, my supervisors comparison was not without reason. I had skipped over a critical aspect of the initial evaluation.
I was so focused on accurately administering the assessment and obtaining all the relevant information, I had removed myself from the fact that my patient was a human being, and therefore, desired to be treated as such.
This supervisor taught me many things over the period of time I was fortunate to have her guidance, but the importance of establishing rapport is one of the greatest lessons she bestowed upon me.
So, what kind of guidance counselor are you, reader?
Establishing rapport begins the minute you step into a patients room. It is your presence; this includes the professionalism, compassion, and positivity you communicate both verbally and non-verbally. It is asking the right questions, in the right way, in order to better understand the patient and their individual needs, desires, and preferences.
The process of establishing rapport is fluid. You are challenged to modify your behavior, objectives, and presentation style as you continue to gather information and gain insight into what is important to the patient. What worked for one patient will likely not work for another. Only after understanding the patients unique story are you able to progress with developing the treatment plan.