Key steps in managing the client-case worker relationship – Tripat Kaur, Val Cudmore

PART A

Informal Sharing

Informal Sharing is a process that allows the client to talk freely and share their thoughts with greater confidence. This helps the client and counselor in the following ways:

  1. It provides an opportunity for the counsellor to know more about the client and their problems.
  2. All clients need to be listened to with respect and without being judged when they choose to talk about their experiences. Informal Sharing also provides an opportunity for client to speak without getting any advice and judgment.

Active Listening

Listening to the client and their story not only helps to understand the problem in a better way but also demonstrate a genuine desire to understand where the other person is coming from. When active listening skills are used to connect with a client, the person feels heard and trust begins to develop.

Use Empathy and Respect

Active listening not only creates a sense of trust during counselling, but it also leads to the development of empathy. This is the most powerful tool when it comes to developing trust. It means that you cry when they cry, or you feel anger when they feel anger. This gives powerful insight into what our client is feeling, which can be used to help them understand and process their emotions.

From the beginning treat the client as an important person. It can be done in the following ways:

  1. Answer their phone calls / emails regularly
  2. Respect their time e.g. start the sessions on time
  3. Maintain professionalism and warmth

Speed

Depending upon the client’s culture/background  it may take longer to build the trust required to discuss more personal and sensitive issues. Before delving into the biggest problems, try to solve a smaller problem early in the process. This will help the client build confidence in the frontline worker. It also helps the client and frontline worker in following ways:

  1. Slowing down the process
  2. Getting past the language barrier, getting interpretation if necessary
  3. Enabling the worker to understand the client’s view of
    • the situation
    • the family dynamics
    • children
    • documentation
    • Isolation – from family to community
    • Ongoing language struggles
  4. Enabling the worker to understand the client’s role in their family and what that role means.  E.g. What is the level of loyalty?

Be Competent, act competently

The client is not going to trust you if you don’t know what you are doing. Ensure you have proper experience and training before tackling the issue. Competency also involves asking and doing:

  1. What is the issue at hand?
  2. What is the client’s immediate need e.g. what is the need regarding custody of children and important documents?
  3. Compartmentalize the problems
  4. Strategize a plan

Self Disclosure

Disclosing personal information is also another way to build confidence but too much disclosure, done too early and for the wrong reasons can be harmful. Always be mindful of what you represent to the client, whether good or bad.

PART B

Needs Assessment

In- depth needs assessment is a vital component of the frontline worker’s effort to help the client. Needs assessment can be done by consulting the client in identifying and sorting priorities, collecting necessary information and developing an action plan.

Confidentiality

Trust is the most valuable facet of the relationship of the front line worker and client. Without trust, the client will not be comfortable opening up to let you listen. Start the work with clients by explaining what confidentiality means and the ways you will seek to ensure confidentiality, privacy and safety.

Structure the session

Whether the conversation with a client is short or in depth, the frontline worker should create a beginning to settle into conversation, a middle in which the work is happening and an end with a summary of the session and plans for what is next.

 Education and awareness

The provision of education and information about the problem can have a significant impact on the client. Education should be provided at a time when the client is calm enough to absorb what is conveyed.

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