Connection is KEY when building true, safe, and loving relationships within our families and our homes. Like the special key to the front door of our home, there is a special KEY needed to open the gate to our most meaningful relationships. If we don’t have the right KEY for connection, we will not enter the home of real relational closeness, trust, and relationship satisfaction.
Therapy should always start with building a strong connection. It is the first step towards building trust with a new person. When the focus is on building a connection, the child can feel more at ease with the therapist and not feel like they are in fight or flight mode. A child who is in fight or flight mode is not going to be able to engage with the therapist.
To help build a connection, I use the child’s strengths. As a strengths-based therapist, I find out from the parent what the child loves and form sessions around those interests and strengths. Once those interests are identified and used during sessions, the child is more likely to be relaxed and at ease during our sessions. This is the first step for therapy to be successful.
Building a connection can take a few sessions or even months, but we need to be patient and let the child connect when they are ready. If we push too hard, it may take even longer to build a strong connection.
Using a child’s strengths also works on building intrinsic motivation. So, they want to interact and engage during sessions. Not just because I have their favorite toy or food, but because they enjoy engaging with me and with what we are doing together.
I want them to feel comfortable to be who they are, when they are working with me. I build the connection first, to decrease the tendency to be in a fight or flight situation. I want the child to feel like they can trust me and interact and engage with me at their level.
Connection is the foundation for success when using a strengths-based approach to treating communication differences.