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Trust between a counselor and client

Counselors must overcome barriers to trust in order to begin effective patient treatment

counselor client trust

After a diagnosis has been established but before any therapy begins, the rehabilitation counselor must establish trust with his or her patient. One of the critical skills learned in a degree program in psychology is interpersonal communications.

The ability to relate to and gain the trust of the person suffering from a disability is one of the first hurdles of the rehabilitation process. In some cases, the rehabilitation counselor is embarking on a several month or year-long relationship, one that involves every aspect of the patient’s life. According to BioMed Central Health Services Research, patients that trust their healthcare provider are more likely to follow through with their prescribed treatment plan.

The rehabilitation counselor establishes trust through empathy, consistency, and reliability. While trust must be earned over time, rehabilitation counselors begin by establishing a rapport with a patient, including getting to know the individual on a personal level. Empathy is the ability to relate to someone who is suffering without feeling sorry for them. It means conveying a sense of compassion without pity or judgment.

Counselors must be consistent in their moods, communications and behaviors. Keeping things simple and predictable for a patient suffering from a disability is the best way to accomplish this. They learn to ask patients questions about themselves, maintain eye contact, and actively listen to their answers. Showing up on time, following through on promises, and being dependable even under adverse circumstances are all part of being reliable and trustworthy.

Counselors also learn not to immediately assume that they have a patient’s trust. When patients don’t respond well, rehabilitation counselors remain kind, and refrain from anger or returning unpleasantness. No one – including counselors - fully comprehends how others are feeling, how much pain they are in, or what other emotional issues are causing them to be unhappy at that moment.

Counseling

Barriers to trust are both physical and emotional. Someone dealing with the loss of their legs, for example, is going to have emotional barriers, depression, anger, and other frustrations. Someone with a mental disability might exhibit paranoia, dementia, distrust of the counselor and strangers, and other psychological barriers. Brain injuries often cause disassociation, hostility, and aggressive behavior. And paralyzed patients will have feelings of helplessness, which creates fear, and therefore distrust.

Gaining the trust of children is yet another skill for rehabilitation counselors to master. A child who was battered will have emotional issues around trusting adults. Disabled children may not fully understand what a disability really means, and may be subjected to intense pressures to “fit in” as they return to school. Children with learning disabilities or developmental disabilities do not process emotions as others, often requiring additional mental health counseling. Above all, consistency is especially important when dealing with children. (see also Childhood Developmental Psychology).

As the process of establishing trust evolves, the rehabilitation counselor will employ different strategies to maintain relationships and motivate patients. It requires the ability to be flexible, patient, and honest throughout the duration of the treatment plan. It means working hard to understand the patient, identifying each individual’s physical and psychological barriers to trust, and finding ways to overcome them.

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  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
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The Chicago School of Professional Psychology , Online (campus option available)
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media for the 4th consecutive year.
  • Listed on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2013, for the sixth consecutive year.
  • Links students to hundreds of training opportunities ( beyond their traditional internships and practicum) at their many “partner agencies” in each of their local communities. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
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Regent University prepares students with the knowledge to excel and the faith to live with purpose. Our 20,000 alumni, from more than 110 countries, are changing the world as accomplished professionals. Named a top-15 school nationally for online bachelor's programs (U.S. News & World Report, 2015), Regent is among the most affordable undergraduate Christian colleges (CCCU 2015). Fully accredited, challenging programs are available online and on campus. New classes begin every eight weeks.

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  • 95% alumni satisfaction rate.
  • Currently holds more than 500 professional alliances, including 19 of the top Fortune 100 companies.
  • Courses are taught by expert faculty, with 86% of professors possessing a doctoral degree.
  • Offers credit for prior experience and learning, as well as scholarships, accelerated programs, and several other ways to help reduce tuition costs.
  • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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Argosy University , Online (campus option available)
  • Designated as a 2015 Military Friendly® School by Victory Media, publishers of G.I. Jobs®.
  • Each program is designed to instill the knowledge, ethical values, and interpersonal skills of professional practice and to foster values of social responsibility.
  • Offers several flexible learning options, including a blended format that combines campus and online learning.
  • Several scholarship opportunities are available for students who qualify.
  • Features a competency-based MBA program that allows students to test out of subjects based on prior professional experience.
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•        Ranked #4 among the 2015 Best Regional Universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report.

•        Designated as 2015 Military Friendly School by U.S. News & World Report.

•        Student to faculty ratio of 12:1, with an average class size of 21.

•        85% of faculty holds a doctorate or terminal degree in their field.

•        Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).

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  • Ranked #8 in the 2013 Best Online Undergrad Programs by U.S. News & World Report.
  • 70% graduation rate– significantly higher than the national average of 59%. 
  • Ranked #2 by U.S. News & World Report for Best Online Bachelor's Programs for Veterans. 
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), one of six regional accrediting associations that accredit public and private colleges and universities in the United States.  
  • Has a network of 26 campuses.

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University of Phoenix , Online (campus option available)
  • Provides career services that help students find careers that match their interests and map out a personalized career plan.
  • Offers mentorships and networking opportunities through an Alumni Association of 800,000+ graduates.
  • Has flexible start dates and class schedules.
  • Offers special military rates and special advisors who have a military background.
  • Gives students the chance to earn credits for applicable military training and education.
  • Locations nationwide and online options.
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  • Online school designated as a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Commited more than $60 million in tuition savings in 2015 through scholarships.
  • Active-duty military, veterans, and Veteran’s Administration employees can save 15% on tuition.
  • Offers 24/7 student services, including financial aid help, course registration, and career counseling.
  • Regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA).
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South University , Montgomery
  • Began in 1899 as Draughon’s Practical Business College.
  • Features campuses that are heavily engaged in their respective communities, providing professional service from students and faculty.
  • Offers financial aid, scholarships, and counseling for both active and post-duty military students.
  • Has 15 campuses across the United States, as well as 4 art institutes in North Carolina and Texas.
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
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