Tips to build up the counselling relationship

For counselling to be successful, it requires the client to share their experiences and behaviour honestly. Ideally, the counselling relationship is a close and trusting one that allows this to happen. However, many clients are used to concealing and avoiding the things that need to be discussed. And of course, it takes time to build relationships. It can be very difficult to divulge thoughts and feelings to a stranger, even if they are a counsellor. Here are some things to keep in mind, especially at the beginning of the relationship.

  • Counsellors can do their part to allow the client to feel as comfortable as possible at the outset by expressing openness to encourage the client to do the same and start the relationship on a good note.


  • Ask the client what their expectations are and what they want to get from counselling, then use those to guide you. When the client closes themselves off, explain to them how discussing the matter at hand will help them towards achieving the goals they shared with you.


  • For clarity and transparency, let them know how the counselling process might go and gently correct any false information they may have about it.


  • Plan your session ahead of time and know what questions you want to ask your client when you meet. While you cannot prepare for everything because things can go in unexpected directions during your session, you still want to do your best to have it go down a productive path.


If you find you are not equipped to help a client because you can see there will be a personality mismatch or you are not an expert in what they require, refer them to another professional who is a better match. And take time to seek someone suitable for the client instead of making a blind referral. You should also make sure the client is aware that this referral is happening because someone else is better equipped than you are for them, you don’t want to make them feel this is their fault and they are being condemned.  

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