How Do Psychologists Get Patients To Trust Them?

How psychologists get patients to trust them

Therapy is a safe space in which you can vent, express yourself and be vulnerable, while at the same time resolving the problems that concern you. Achieving this environment is not an easy task.

Psychologists have skills and characteristics that allow patients to feel comfortable and confident enough to be able to tell them all the intimacies they consider necessary, even starting from the first session.

But… How do psychologists get patients to trust them? Keep reading this article and you will discover what therapist factors and skills create a safe space for patients.

Strategies used by psychologists to get patients to trust them

Creating a context in which patients can open up and openly express their fears and insecurities is essential for psychotherapy to progress. These are the strategies used by therapists to achieve this.

1. Active listening and unconditional empathy

The main skill that characterizes psychologists is active listening: the ability to listen with full awareness to the person who is speaking. This means giving them your full attention, showing interest through comments and further questions about the topic, and being unconditionally empathetic, so they don’t feel judged and can feel comfortable opening up.

Active listening is a mutually beneficial practice. Patients know in this way that they are being heard and understood, that they are not being judged and that they can express themselves freely.

At the same time, allows psychologists to effectively understand what patients want to express and how they feel, and makes it easier for the patient to express himself fully and not keep relevant information for therapy to himself due to mistrust. These elements guarantee therapists enough information to be able to help patients, which is their main objective.

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Luckily, this skill can not only be idiosyncratic to the person, but can also be trained. During psychology studies, special emphasis is placed on it because it is necessary to be able to help other people, so we try to ensure that all psychologists are capable of active listening and showing empathy.

2. Authenticity

Authenticity means that psychologists appear natural, so that there is congruence between how they are as people and how they are as therapists. This feature allows patients see therapists as close people and they feel confident to express themselves openly with their psychologists.

To show authenticity, self-disclosures can be made, that is, the therapist comments on personal issues that are related to what is being discussed in therapy. This implies being vulnerable, because the psychologist may reveal that he/she also suffers from a problem similar to that of the patient.

They may also appear vulnerable if they naturally express emotions. Since psychologists are empathetic people, it is possible that at some point they may notice that they are somewhat affected by the problem being treated in therapy. This display of emotions only shows that psychologists are also people and that they are truly involved in therapy.

Another way to be authentic, contrary to the previous one, is to use a sense of humor in therapy, to joke in confidence. Even adapting and choosing therapeutic techniques according to your own way of being is a way to achieve authenticity. As long as the psychologist is comfortable with her way of working, she will surely be showing authenticity.

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3. Healthy and explicit communication

Psychological treatment can generate uncertainty, because it is difficult for patients to know what to expect from the entire process and they feel lost. Therefore, one way for psychologists to make patients trust them is to talk about the therapy process explicitly: explain what they can expect from it and how the problem evolves throughout the therapy.

It is also important to communicate openly in therapy when something is not going well within the relationship between therapist and patient. If discrepancies or discomforts that arise during treatment are discussed naturally from the beginning, patients will be able to feel safe within the relationship.

4. Fit to the person

Just as it is important for the psychologist to adapt the therapy to his/her way of being to be authentic, it is even more important that he/she adjusts to the patients. The treatment has to be adapted to your needs and pace, since each person has their idiosyncrasies and not everyone has the same abilities or tastes.

Therefore, it is important that psychologists do not err on the side of too much insistence. Insisting on performing a therapeutic exercise can have the opposite effect to the desired one if the patient is not willing, since it can cause a bad reaction on her part. Among the therapist’s skills is persuasion, but it is not a question of abusing it and force anyone to do anything. The patients will always have the last word.

5. An expert’s view

Psychologists have experience, skills and knowledge about psychology (forgive the redundancy) and how to solve problems. After all, psychologists are experts in mental health. Precisely, the vision we have about experts is often enough to make us trust them, their explanations and recommendations. Even more so if the therapist shows confidence when speaking and applying psychological techniques, and professionalism in his/her actions and communication with the patient.

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6. Hope and positive vision of the future

In addition to the skills of therapists, there is an important factor in getting patients to trust psychologists: hope. Patients bring a problem that they see already tired and that they do not know what to do with it. Psychologists give hope of knowing that it can be resolved and that it will disappear.

Likewise, they provide a positive vision of the situation. They demonstrate this by finding exceptions in which the problem is solved (even momentarily), strategies that the patient already uses and that work. In this way, psychologists reinforce the positive aspects of patients’ behavior and praise their recent skills and learning. The latter not only generate trust in the therapist, but also helps them trust in themselves.

Do you want to train in Psychotherapy?

If you are interested in learning the theory and practice of psychological therapy with the support of a teaching team who treats patients every day, the Master in Integrative Psychotherapy from Mensalus is for you.

It offers the option of online or in-person training at one of the leading Psychology centers in Barcelona: the Mensalus Institute. In addition, it has very small groups, allows students to join a team working with real patients, and upon completing it you will obtain a certificate from the Nebrija University.