Acknowledging Trust

Mar 01, 2017

“It is in the arcana of dreams that existences merge and renew themselves, change and yet keep the same – like the soul of a musician in a fugue.”

Bram Stoker
from “The Jewel of Seven Stars”

Acknowledging Trust

TISA Description of the Problem: It is sometimes easy to lose site of how difficult it is for many clients to raise the courage to see a mental health professional. Besides dealing with their own fears, they have sometimes had to overcome stigmatizing comments by friends or family such as, “You don’t want to see a therapist. You don’t need that. You should be able to handle your own stress.” In other instances, spouses or partners sometimes adamantly oppose therapy for they are worried that their significant others will talk about them and reveal family secrets. The following simple, but elegant tip, addresses this issue of trust and courage up front.

Tip: It can take real strength to see a therapist for the first time. I find that in my introductory comments, it is sometimes useful to acknowledge this fact as follows:

Clinician: “I just wanted to thank you for trusting me by coming today”

TISA Follow-up: Some clinicians use a similar approach at the other end of the interview, during the closing phase, with a comment such as, “I wanted to thank-you for coming today and sharing so much information so openly. That can be hard to do, but it has really helped me to get a better idea of what you are going through and how I might be able to help. Let me share some ideas I have about what is going on . . .” In either case, the acknowledgement of a respect for the client’s trust can help to set a warmer and more safe environment for sharing.

Tip provided by:

Angie Guanzon, M.D.
Virginia Beach, Virginia

TISA is a site dedicated to advancing the science and art
Of preventing suicide and teaching clinical interviewing