Helpful Relationship in Social Work

by marie_michelle98 on March 24, 2017 - 2:29pm


Creating a helpful relationship with the client is the first step of a clinical process. Without a strong bond based on trust, there is no evolution possible in the future. There are five important caracteristics to look at when the social worker meets his new client.

Steps of helpful relationship:

1 . Purpose an Concern

2. Expectations and clear communication

3. Empathy

4. Genuineness and acceptance

5. Authority

These steps are not necessarily obliged to stay in the same order. They all will be explained in this document.


To begin, it is important to be careful about the room for the counsel. A clean, well-arranged, warm and private space is priorised. The first point to bring in the meeting is that everything told in this place will stay confidential. The social worker must look confident and well-prepared. He must wear clean and appropriate clothes. After all these elements are present, he can start the helpful relationship process.

Purpose and Concern

First, make feel the client like he is the most important person in that moment. The easiest way to prove your investment is to look at him straight in the eyes. Make sure that it is done in a way that the client feels comfortable. Active listening can help to achieve that step. Active listening is making short sounds such as: «OK», «yes», «I understand.» and nodding while he talks.

Expectations and Clear Communication

Then, the client comes with his own expectations and the Social Work comes with his own too. The ideas of each other about the counsel can be totally different and should be clarified. The Social Worker has to explain his role and what he can do in the context. This explanation will lower the client’s expectations and will bring him at the same level as the intervener.


Next, this part takes a little more practice. It requires the intervener to put his feelings away to put himself in the shoes of his client. Make sure to differentiate sympathy, that is to feel the way someone else feels and the empathy, that is to understand someone else’s feelings.

Genuineness and Acceptance

After that, the Social Worker does not have to pretend that he is a multi-professional. He has to act genuinely and say the truth about his thoughts and feelings. He also has to respect the personality of the client. The intervener has to accept at 100% the client in his wholeness, without judgment.


Finally, being professional is important in a helpful relationship with a client. If the person feels like a friend, it is not a healthy relationship. Stay emotionally uninvolved to protect the authority. The social worker should not talk about his own experience if it is not useful. He also has to be respected in his role and make sure the relationship is strictly professional.


To conclude, we have seen the main steps to create a helpful relationship with clients: purpose and concern, expectations and clear communication, empathy, genuineness and acceptance and finally, the authority. We also saw the elements of a great “before the meeting” organization. Do not forget that you are there to help the client, not to do at his place.



Hi Marie Michelle,
I find your text interesting as it allows to understand what social workers need to do when they meet new clients. Your description of the different characteristics are well-structured. It is short and is concised. However, I have noticed an error (priorise­­d). In the conclusion, it could have been interesting to mention that building trust is the basic of the process. Overall, it is a simple and clear text that can be understood by everyone.

Great job! I really like that the article is divided into several sub-themes. It helps the reader to understand well the process you are explaining. However, I think that the introduction and the conclusion are a little short. Overall, this is a really good article and the process to create a helpful relationship is well explain. This will help me in my future work!

Hello Marie Michelle,
In my opinion, this text has an awesome structure. It is very clear and easy to understand and I really felt the professionalism in it. However, I think you should have highlighted the important words in it because it would have added some more impact to your text. Overall, I don't even think there is some drawbacks to your text. It is flawless in my opinion. Great job! This will probably help me in my future!

About the author

Marie-Michelle Gagné is a 18 years old student of the cegep de Jonquière. She is from Dolbeau-Mistassini. Marie-Michelle is working in a bar to pay her studies. This young woman is studying in social work and is planning to study at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi.