How to engage clients in therapy

When a person comes in for therapy, whether it’s psychological therapy or any kind of treatment, the most important thing is rapport building throughout the entire sessions. A counsellor is giving the medicine. The most crucial step is how you engage with a client. A variety of models and methods and techniques are used by modern counsellors and clients these days. Some counsellors have a particular sort of theory for working with his/ her client. The school of thought varies from therapist to therapist, whether cognitive behaviour therapy or solution-focused therapy. All these have one thing in common: the potential effectiveness and the alliance with the client.

There are a few ways that the therapist must follow while giving therapy:

  1. While giving therapy, a therapist must be genuinely engaged in a therapeutic relationship with his/ her client.
  2. A therapist should have unconditional positive regard for his/ her client. It engages a client positively, and he/ she responds to every question and also feels at ease while talking about the issues.
  3. A therapist should be empathetic towards the client for a stronger bond throughout the sessions, and it also helps the client to discuss his/ her problems with the therapist


  1. Clear communication plays a significant role in engagement during therapy.

Whether it’s well-known psychotherapy or behavioural therapy, any therapy requires self-disclosure from the client’s end. It also requires an immense form of commitment for bringing in the desired change.  The most effective therapeutic process is engagement in psychotherapy. It has many advantages as it reflects the level of healthy rapport building with the client as it directly impacts the relationship between the therapist and his/ her client. 

Identifiers of positive therapeutic engagement

There are several identifiers for a positive therapeutic engagement between a client and a therapist. Some of them are :

  • The regular attendance of the client in the sessions
  • The emotional catharsis of the client
  • Self-disclosure of the client
  • The client’s ultimate perception of the ultimate goals of the treatment

In general, when we talk about engagement, we are referring to creating a healthy and deep connection with the client that drive decisions, his/her participation and interaction over time. There should be a beneficial and mutual understanding between the therapist and the client to engage in the therapy throughout the session. 

According to a theory given by Bowlby(1988), when a therapist engages a client from the introductory session there are plenty of chances of sustaining the interest of the client all along through all the sessions. This can be done by creating a very safe environment for the client where he can understand that whatever he says or does is going to stay between the therapist and the client. He/ she should be assured of the confidentiality of his words. His past achievements and failures should be explored to be a source for their current existing problems.  It should be highly considered how past relationships might have affected his mental health.  His / her thought patterns, perceptions actions should be modified so that a positive relationship is built with his internal and external worlds.

Carl Rogers

Carl Rogers was one of the first people to emphasize the importance of engaging a client in therapy. He also wrote an article in the Journal of Consulting Psychology, and in this, he mentioned that a counselling session requires some things which should be highly kept in mind.

  • A therapist should continuously focus on building a strong alliance with the client from the very first session.
  • There should be an unconditional acceptance and zero judgment from the therapist.
  • The therapist should be empathetic towards the client and know that by showing empathy and understanding everything, he/ she is creating a very safe environment for the client.
  • The most crucial step of engagement is active listening and clear communication to avoid all the barriers.

These few steps should be kept in mind while a person is giving therapy as these few things play an influential role in the engagement and effectiveness of treatment.

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