I don’t do therapy as much as I used to and one thing that I enjoyed about the process was building rapport with clients. I once heard someone say that if you can’t build rapport within the first 15 minutes of a professional relationship, your chances are pretty much shot. The truth is that we expect people who are professionals we are paying to know what they are talking about. No one really wants a therapist who only has listening skills but has no knowledge base of interventions. A good friend with common sense can accomplish that. The thing about rapport is that it can be built fast or very slow depending on the situation. One of the easiest ways in the therapy room is to do an introduction of yourself and some cool non-personal facts about you. This helps to break the ice and encourages the client to open up about his or her dislikes. Emphasizing that questions are always welcome and adopting a collaborative approach to therapy can also be awesome tools to build rapport. As a therapist, I have to constantly be aware of the amount of rapport I have with each client. While some may trust me starting from session one, it may take six sessions for that to happen with another client. The more rapport I have with a client, the more I can push them out of their comfort zone and challenge them. If they know they can trust me they will feel safe enough to be uncomfortable and work on things that they hide from other people. While I make a very clear distinction between doing therapy and listening to the challenges of friends or associates around me, the rapport thing still holds true. While I’m not going to do a full-fledged intervention with a friend, I have to be aware of how much rapport I have with him or her and choose my words accordingly. Established and secure friendships will get a more candid and unfiltered response while associates and acquaintances will get a more blanket and general response. It’s all related to the rapport I have with them. There are many times I’ve wanted to give a more candid response to an associate or acquaintance but the fact that I do not have enough rapport with them for them to not be offended has stopped me. I conceptualize rapport as being a bank. Deposits happen when there are similar interests, trust is present, and there’s a sense of emotional safety. Withdrawals occur when you have to say something that is uncomfortable or may cause the other person to be offended. If you have enough rapport in the bank with them they won’t lash out at you because you’ve put time into building rapport. If there is not enough rapport in the bank you go into overdraft with a very angry and offended person with the risk of alienation because you overstepped the boundaries of the relationship.
What do you do when you have a million and one thoughts running around in your head that need to be connected by reading them? You blog. And unfortunately, the randomness that may come as a part of this spontaneous blog post may violate the NUMBER ONE rule of blogging: “Only have one subject” or the number two rule: “Don’t be wordy.” Well this one may actually be wordy. For the sake of the people reading this, I think I’ll at least separate this non-subject blog into topics. Topic One: One thing that I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts is the amount of traveling that I’ve done in the past few months. Five weekend trips in six weekends has been no joke. Trying to keep up with schoolwork and managing a job without taking PTO has been a superhuman feat that (thankfully) is almost over. As someone who loves to travel, it has been great seeing the world outside of the little bubble of work and school that perpetually seems to overshadow my life. Topic Two: The whole idea of choices has really been in the forefront of my mind these last couple days. I’ve been able to benefit from a series of particular choices I made that began in March 2012. These choices involved being deliberate in certain actions that I knew would have an outcome. While I did not know what the outcome would be, I knew that it was preferable to making the opposite choice not to change my actions. These choices continued and more choices related to them were made with the full knowledge that all future choices needed to be in line with the ones previously made. As I began to build choices upon choices, I saw very small but also very pointed results. While the results were not always (and rarely are always) explicitly exactly what I want as far as long term, there are still results that come directly from those choices. I say all this to say that many times I think that people neglect to recognize and acknowledge how certain choices can not only change your life for the better or for the worse, but also that they lead to other choices in the similar track. An example of this are the drugs known as “gateway drugs”. Statistics tell use that people who use these specific drugs are more likely to try harder and more potent drugs. Choices lead to other choices and these choices ultimately shape our lives and who we are as people. We don’t always realize the impact of a particular choice and seldom take the time to view our lives as a series of choices that we made. People we chose to associate with or listen to. Things that we neglected or paid attention to. Opportunities for growth that we capitalized on or disregarded. I was reminded how making certain choices in my life served as the gateway to an environment or an experience that I didn’t “deserve” to have. But those consistent choices laid the ground work for a positive result.