Establishing Relationships in Support Work

1984 words (8 pages) Essay in Social Work

03/08/18 Social Work Reference this

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  • Haiyang Li


There are many kinds of relationships in the world, for instance, parents and children, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, friends, neighbors and etc. Normally, people think the relationship between supporters and clients is the same as doctor and clients. However, there are a lot of differences. In this essay, I will demonstrate what a supporting relationship should be, identifying the key theoretical principles to establish a supporting relationship. In between, I will connect the theoretical principles with the case study, and demonstrate how the principles work in the real situation. To build a supporting relationship, the supporter needs to put his heart in the support work using all the helping skills and Personal-Certred Approach as a guide in the real work.

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The relationship between supporter and client was seen as someone who can talk to. It looks very simple. However, the supporter is the one who can be trust, the one who can understand the problems or the situation the clients in, the one can accept the fact of clients hold, and the one can be allowed to provide help for the client. In order to become that kind supporter, the helper need to prepare relevant knowledge to understand the situation, history, strength and worries the client has. the relationship is about building a rapport and trust with the supporter. The client may feel comfortable enough to open up and address their problems. This kind of relationship is built on confidentiality and reliability.

In this case, ‘Spider’, he is a 19 years old boy.

The situation of him is that he is sleeping in the nearby park. He is lack of education but he learned from street knowing how to survive on the street but poor living conditions.

The history of him is that he has family abuse history and has been lived in foster homes for a few years and change foster home frequently in those years. He was not good at school study left school when he was 14. After he turned to 18, he lost government support and then he had to live in the street in the poor living condition and use street drugs for himself.

The strength of him is that he identifies himself as a resourceful, determined and smart street dweller. He wants to start a new way of life which is moving out from the street, finding a job, requiring more knowledge and having his own living place. He hopes that he can have his own family. He has very strong desire to move on for his life to start working forward to his dream.

The worries of him are homelessness, unemployment and reuse street drugs.

From case study, I think the Person-Centred Approach is suitable and helpful for us to understand and care for him. The Person-Centred Approach developed from the work of Dr. Carl Rogers. The research (Richard, 1992) indicates that the Person-Centred Approach theory aim to develop or create a relationship that can allow the clients to be themselves. The relationship can be felt safe for the client and give them space to develop and grow. To achieve this goal, the supporter would be a person who was deeply understanding which is empathic in the theory; accepting which is having unconditional positive regard and genuine which is congruent in the principle.

Using Person-Centred Approach theory, the supporter needs to understand what has happened to him. Firstly, when he was young, he was suffering from neglect and abuse in his family. The research (Smith & Segal, 2012) shows that Negligence, on the part of parents or caretakers, can cause children both physical and mental health problems. Parents or caretakers carelessness can be seen as a kind of physicalabuse. Children’s fear is also from unpredictable environment change and behavior of their guardians. The guardians successfully manage to plunge fear in the hearts of the children. As a result children who suffered from family physical abuse always pay attention on the negative emotions of their caretakers or parents. So, when these children grow up, the childhood experience has impacted on their personalities and behavior as well. Research (Soomro, Abbasi & Lalani, 2014) shows that they may encounter physical problems such as asthma, high blood pressure, ulcer, allergies, etc; psychological problems such as personal disorders and aggressive demeanor and behavior problems such as felony, drug habits and poor academic performance. In this case, ‘Spider’ shows his behavior problems which are not successful in school and drug problems. And street drug problem still drag him back to the street.

Secondly, he had been into the foster home but change frequent between foster homes. The foster care system seems another ideal choice for them; however, it is not always helpful when these young people need help. These adolescents have been impacted by the homeless issue and cause their social and health problem (Joanne & Patricia, 2006). Children who have been put in the foster care home experienced about the relationship attached between them and their caretakers or their foster home parents. This link is very important for children’s development. Research (American Psychiatric Association, 1994) indicated that Disruptions in attachment relationships can lead to Reactive Attachment Disorder of infancy or early Childhood. In this case, ‘Spider’ has experienced the frequently changes in foster care homes. This impact may shows on him when he grows up. He may have difficulty trust or related with somebody else such as our supporters. So this may be a barrier in establishing supporting relationships.

So from this case, as a supporter, I understand that the most problems of him have not controlled by himself. He has no choices that born from a family where abuse him when he was young. For rescuing him, he has been put into foster care. The child abuse experience makes his misbehavior in the foster home and school. He does not prepare enough for his independent life before he had been abandoned from foster care home. He has to live in the street in a rough condition so that he has the opportunity to connect with street drugs. I am also glad that he is still holding his hope on his future. He wants to be employed, educated and to have a living place. The internal motivation is the most important helper for him to reach his goal because an important part of this theory is that in a particular psychological environment, the fulfillment of personal potential is a desire to know and be known by other people (British Association for the Person Centred Approach, 2015).

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After understanding about the client, the supporter needs to preparing himself with communication skills, action skills, mind skills and using unconditional positive regard to start a conversation with the client. Richard (2012) indicates that the Communication and action skills are what people do and how they do it rather than what and how they feel and think. The skills include listening skills, questioning skills and challenging skills. Supporter and clients can use verbal messages, vocal messages, body messages, touch messages and taking action messages to communication with each other.

In the Person-Centred Approach theory, supporter needs to use positively acceptant response to the client. Use warm and appropriate expression to send messages to build a different kind of relationships so the client may feel free to talk and express himself. Also, in genuine part, the supporter need to show client that client has been heard. It is important to show that the supporter is paying attention in the conversation they have. The supporter may use verbal messages to reflecting what the client said; may use face expression to let client know the support was thinking about what client said; or the supporter, may use taking action messages to make a note to show his listening. That is the main difference of the relationship with doctor, nurse or social worker. John and Julia (2011) research shows that these professional people tend to provide advices response rather than listening. They are looking for the solution rather than the process of helping people finding their own problems the helping relationship is focus on people. It is the way for people to rescue themselves.

I understand of mind skills is the process to know yourself and your own experience in order to use your own experience to help the client. in this case, we can share the same experience when ourselves in the difficult situation. Out experience may difference with his abuse, foster care, homelessness history but we have our difficult time such as hard to find a job and do not know what to do next in life. The important that we share how we concur the difficulty, what effort we made and never lose the hope.

To sum up, the support work is how you treat someone who needs help and how to provide help. The first to start a relationship, as the Person-Certred Approach suggested, understanding what the client is, such as who he is, what the situation he is in, what the problem he has and what worries he may have. Then before start a conversation, the supporter needs to provide a comfortable and safe environment for the client. One meaning of the environment is physical environment that may include the nice place to sit, comfortable and no interrupting noise. The other meaning of the environment is between supporter and the client. The supporter need to prepare an environment that the client can open his heart and willing to share his story. In order to do so, the supporter need to use the communication and action skills, use his voice, use positive unconditional regards, use acceptance attitude and use congruent skills to show that the supporter is ready and willing to accept the client. Also, the supporter needs to keep the confidentially of the conversation. So the client feels trustworthy and safe to talk to the supporter.


British Association for the Person Centred Approach, 2015. What is the Person-Centred Approach? Retrieved from

Joanne, O.,& Patricia, L. (2006). Adolescent Homelessness, Nursing, and Public Health Policy. Policy, Politics, & Nursing Practice, 7(1), 73-77. doi: 10.1177/1527154406286663

John, M., & Julia, M. (2011). Counseling Skills a practical guide for counselors and helping professionals. (2nd ed.). New York, USA: Open University Press

Richard, N. (1992). Lifeskills Helping A text book of practical counseling and helping skills. (3nd ed.). NSW, Australia: Harcourt Brace & Company.

Richard, N. (2012). Basic counseling skills a helper’s manual. (3rd ed.). London, UK. Sage publications Ltd.

Smith, M., & Segal, J. (2012, July).Child Abuse and Neglect. Retrieved July 25, 2012, from Helpguide:

Soomro, S., Abbasi,Z. & Lalani, F. (2014). An Indepth Insight intoChildAbuseand itsImpacton Personality of Victims. International Research Journal of Art & Humanities. 10 (40), 53-68. Retrieved from

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