Unlocking the Power of Human Connection: The Role of Rapport and Trust in Social Work

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What has drawn me to study and practice social work is the social work core values of the importance of human relationships, dignity, and worth of a person. In treatment, in therapy, if you are not building rapport, it does not matter what intervention or evidence-based practice you use, it simply will not be successful. Rapport and trust are essential in treatment.

An ongoing study and question we ask is, “Why are individuals not accessing services when services are available?” In findings, we know that individuals may report a lack of trust in agencies. As an agency, we should be asking the question, “Why aren’t individuals trusting us? How do we build that bridge? How do we build trust and connection with individuals?”

The Winter Shelter at Good Sam is a great stepping stone to begin building trust with individuals. It provides the beginnings of establishing safety with individuals. We know in any trauma-informed practice, establishing safety is the first step to healing. Safety is established by providing warmth, which addresses and meets the very basic human need of homeostasis. This is the very bottom tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: food, shelter, and safety.

I am very excited about the new position we have at Good Sam, our Outreach Resource Coordinator (Outreach RC). The Outreach RC is going a step further in meeting people where they are, which may be quite literally on the street or in their cars. The Outreach RC is extending a hand from a perspective of empathy, understanding that individuals may not yet have the trust to walk through our agency’s doors. We can compassionately respond by leaving our brick-and-mortar and meeting individuals where they are. It is Good Sam responding by saying, “We hear you. We see you. We hear your story. You matter.”

“…but a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and saw him…he brought him to an inn and took care of him.” (Luke 10:33)

Kristin M. Lapp, MSW, LCSW
Licensed Therapist

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