How To Improve Your Therapeutic Relationship Online

Therapeutic Relationship Online

Today’s technology has enabled us to provide cognitive-behavioral therapy through bots and automate many human tasks.

But the one thing that cannot be automated is the relationship between two humans. It is nearly impossible for an algorithm to process subtle cues, energy variations, and human emotions.

The therapeutic relationship is one of the core elements of mental health care or a coaching engagement. Client trust is established by developing rapport and a nurturing relationship.

As most therapists are providing services online, read on to find out how you can improve your therapeutic relationship using online tools.

What is the Therapeutic Relationship?

The therapeutic relationship is an interactive relationship between a mental healthcare professional and a client. This relationship defines communication parameters and increases engagement to enable the change desired by the client.

4 Phases of the Therapeutic Relationship

The therapeutic relationship evolves over time based on the needs of the client, the treatment, and the therapy process.

  1. Commitment – This is the stage when the therapist and the client commit to an ongoing engagement based on a client’s goal or requirement. Both parties get to know each other’s working styles and preferences.
  2. Process – This is the longest stage of the therapeutic relationship. The therapist looks for patterns, triggers, cycles, and repetitive themes in the clients’ behavior to identify what may be holding them back.
  3. Change – The client works with the therapist to understand the therapist’s conclusions and try new behaviors or thought patterns.
  4. Termination – The therapeutic relationship ends with this stage as the client becomes independently capable of managing their life and struggles.

3 Examples of a Healthy Therapy Alliance

It is crucial to maintain healthy therapy alliances with your clients to ensure the best results for the client.

Empathetic Response

An empathetic response allows you to acknowledge what the client has shared with you. When you show empathy, the client feels heard, and their trust in you increases. Here is an example.

Client: I had to clean the house, wash the dishes, paint the walls, and also drive my kids to soccer before I got here. I feel like I barely have time for myself anymore.

Therapist: I can see that you’re dealing with a lot these days. You have taken on so much to keep your family going, and that can be overwhelming for anyone.

Respectful Observations

For a healthy alliance to exist, the client needs to feel like the therapist respects their beliefs and how they interpret their world. The therapist needs to remain respectful, even when the beliefs of the client may conflict with the therapist’s value system.

In this example, the therapist remains neutral and offers an unbiased observation while directing the focus back to the client.

Client: My daughter is never at home. She’s more concerned about her career and spending time with friends. No wonder her marriage is falling apart.

Therapist: I’m hearing that you care a lot about your daughter’s marriage and want to see her happy. How is all this impacting you?

Client Expertise

As the therapist, you are the expert in the therapy process and the treatment. However, the client is still the expert in their life. Therefore, pushing clients towards your solutions may not benefit them as you only know what they have decided to share with you.

To honor the client’s expertise in their lives and keep them empowered, the therapist can ask questions like the following:

What options do you have now?

How can you approach this differently?

What is within your control here?

Why Is It Important In Psychotherapy?

You can only diagnose mental health conditions and create effective treatment plans when you get the most information from your client. This will only happen when they trust you to share intimate details of their life. Therefore, building a solid relationship is crucial.

On the other hand, the therapist can take on all the client’s concerns, which can affect the therapist’s wellbeing. This leads us to boundaries.

The Importance of Boundaries in Therapy

Boundaries are important both for the therapist and the client. The therapist needs to have a life outside of work for self-care. An unhealthy dependence on the therapist needs to be discouraged, as the goal is to equip clients to face their lives confidently.

Transference is another important aspect of the therapeutic relationship. This happens when the client projects on the therapist because the therapist reminds them of someone from their past. Transference is an obstacle to a healthy alliance and needs to be dealt with immediately.

You need to address the possibility of meeting the client in a social setting and align on expected behavior in these settings. In addition, there are ethical guidelines that prohibit romantic relationships between the therapist and the client.

Rules and agreed-upon behavior can set these boundaries and spell out expectations. You can reuse Quenza’s coaching agreement from the Expansions library and add your specific rules.

Coaching Client Agreement

How To Build Your Relationship Online

Although online therapy does not allow you and the client to occupy the same physical space during sessions, there are many ways to build an online relationship with clients.

  • Video Sessions vs. Voice Calls: You can read your client’s energy better via video and build a relationship faster. Quenza will introduce video conferencing in Q1 of 2022.
  • Regular Client Feedback: Getting frequent feedback from your client lets them know that you care about their opinion and that you’re willing to make changes to the therapy process. The Quenza platform lets you collect client feedback after every session using The Session Rating Scale.
  • In-Depth Discovery Exercises: Online tools help you learn more about your client as you can easily send many exercises and questionnaires before and after sessions. The Quenza Expansions library has many reusable activities that you can use for this purpose.

5 Techniques For Remote Therapists

A Letter of Self-Compassion

A Letter of Self-Compassion is a great tool to promote self-compassion through letters.

A Letter of Self-Compassion

A Personal Coping Mantra

A Personal Coping Mantra is an exercise your client can use to deal with negative thoughts when you’re not available.

Personal Coping Mantra

Exploring Flow Experiences

Exploring Flow Experiences is when we are most alive and engaged. Your clients will greatly benefit by exploring activities that get them into a flow status.

Flow Experiences

Brief Needs Check-In

The Brief Needs Check-In helps clients who often forget their personal needs. This quick activity will remind them about their core needs.

Brief Needs Check-In

Time in Nature

Spending Time in Nature is one of the cheapest ways to relax and self-soothe. This exercise will encourage your clients to do just that.

Time in Nature

Best Software For Online Therapists

Quenza

As therapists, our top priority is providing value to our clients and helping them make desired changes. With its neat relationship-building features, Quenza is hyper-focused on the value you can bring to your clients while lessening your administrative burden.

AspectsDetails
Features
  • Activity builder
  • Automated pathways
  • Science-backed activities
  • Community support
  • Progress tracker
  • HIPAA-compliant
  • GDPR-compliant
  • Online communication
  • Customization
DrawbacksRelatively new platform, but great features are added on a monthly basis
NameQuenza
Price Starts at $49/month
Free Trial30-day trial for only $1
Websitehttps://quenza.com/

5 Ways Quenza Can Help You Build Rapport

Activities

Similar to the tools and techniques discussed above, the Quenza platform houses many activities that you can send out to clients to keep them engaged. You can even create your own activities.

Pathways

One of the biggest obstacles to building meaningful relationships is time. Quenza helps by letting you create pathways that automate the emailing of activities at set time intervals. This makes maintaining the therapeutic relationship a breeze!

Chat Support

Being available for clients when they have emergencies is invaluable for clients and can help boost your relationship. In addition, the interactions on Quenza are secure and HIPAA-compliant.

Quenza Chat Software for Life Coaches
The Quenza chat functionality helps you be there for clients when they need you the most.

Client Notes

When you work with many clients, it’s not easy to remember every little detail about their lives. The client notes functionality in Quenza will help you keep track of each client to build meaningful therapeutic relationships.

Session notes
You can take notes on the Quenza client notes section to build rapport and maintain client relationships.

Client Dashboard

As your practice grows, it becomes hard to keep track of all the moving parts of your practice. The Quenza dashboard is your one-stop shop to get the latest updates on client activities.

Quenza Dashboard Software for Life Coaches

Final Thoughts

Building and sustaining a healthy therapeutic relationship is an important factor in ensuring the success of your practice. Use the Quenza 30-day trial to see how easy it can be to establish and maintain the trust your clients’ needs.

About the author

Sabrina is a life and career coach, currently working on her ICF accreditation. She is also an experienced freelance writer focusing on mental health and technology. In her past corporate life, she was an automation manager at a bank in Toronto, Canada.

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