The Therapeutic Relationship

A person-centered practice is a practice that benefits both the person with hearing loss and the audiologist. Clients who are treated with empathy, who feel that all of their concerns have been addressed, are going to be more satisfied with the session and are likely to recommend their audiologist to their friends. Audiologists benefit from a structure that helps them find out what is most important to their clients, which could lead to higher job satisfaction.

How will our role be different in the future?

Preparing for how the therapeutic relationship between clinician and client will change in the future requires a shift in how we think about what we do. Adjusting from the starting points (left column), how can you reframe your current work to offer a more holistic (right column) approach?

It’s important to remember that person-centered care is a way of practicing, not an add-on to your session. In our Myth Busters section, we have several resources that explain person-centered care.

Some people worry that person-centered care is too emotional, especially when communication partners get involved. While the counseling process is therapeutic, it is not actually a therapy session. Keep the client and his or her communication partners on target about how hearing loss is affecting their relationship and avoid discussing other disputes. This will help the client to emotionally process how they and those around them are affected by their hearing loss.

Fostering trust

Person-centered care can also help foster trust between clients and audiologists by addressing the needs specific to each client. This is illustrated in Jill Preminger's Trust Model:

Shared decision making

If the audiologist offers solutions other than technology to improve a person with hearing loss’s communication, it increases their professionalism and credibility in the eyes of the client. It will also give the client the necessary sense of security to share their personal experiences.

Having multiple strategies will also make it possible for the audiologist to implement shared decision making with the client. Here is an example of a decision aid, provided by Barbara Weinstein and Jennifer Gilligan at the City University of New York: 

The decision aid helps clients to compare the risks and benefits of taking action on their hearing loss. By helping clients to make decisions, rather than simply telling them what course of action they should follow, they take ownership and thus more commitment to their treatment.