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It’s Part of Recovery: 8 Ways to Build a Lasting Relationship With Your Rehab Patients

Around 21 million Americans are believed to have substance abuse problems. So there’s a strong possibility that you, or someone you know, has been involved with rehabilitation centers. You may also be aware that some rehab centers are more successful than others.

So what makes a successful rehab center?

There are many skills and strategies that a rehab center needs to employ to help patients recover. They need fully trained staff and appropriate resources to be effective.

But above all, they need to be able to build relationships with their patients.

Whether you are work in rehabilitation or are thinking of opening a rehab center, then understanding how to create relationships with your patients will be the key to your success. 

Read our guide to eight tips for building customer relationships to find out more. 

1. Be Patient

It can take time to build relationships in any setting. But in a rehab center, patients may well be anxious, unwell or uncommunicative. 

Patients detoxing from substance addiction can also become agitated and aggressive, which is a real challenge when building relationships with them.

The key to handling these situations is to be patient. Most stages of rehab are temporary, and an aggressive patient will usually calm down in time. 

Always respond calmly and supportively. Showing impatience can make matters and worse and undermine your relationship with the customer. 

2. Get To Know Them

In a rehab setting, it is easy just to think of your patients as problems that need solving. You may also have dozens of patients to build relationships with. so it can be hard to remember details about each one. 

However, if you take time to get to know them you will stand a better chance of building a meaningful relationship with them.

Ask them about their life, and not just their addiction problems. Then you can always find something to talk about.

Always introduce yourself to new patients. While there is no need for you to go into details about your own life, sharing a few conversations about mutual interests will help build lasting relationships with them.

3. Listen To Your Patients

Even in a rehab center, all relationships should be a two-way street.

Patients may arrive feeling vulnerable and worried. They will undergo various treatments and have to abide by the rules of the clinic. Therefore it can be easy for them to feel helpless.

Make sure you listen to their concerns, and any questions they may have. 

Show you have listened by following up any queries or concerns. This will show them that you are taking them seriously. 

4. Understand Their Needs

There are around 14,000 substance abuse treatment centers in the US. So competition is fierce, and those with the best reputations will succeed.

When your customers were choosing which rehab center to attend, they may have made their decision based on the specialist care they would receive. 

You need to repay that decision by taking the time to fully understand their problems and their needs. No two patients are the same, and their needs may be complex.

Therefore you should demonstrate that you understand their needs by responding to their requests promptly. 

Their needs will not just be physical, but also psychological and emotional. These can be difficult to understand, but with time and patience, you can build a picture of their needs and how best to respond.

5. Keep Them Informed

If a patient feels that they are being kept in the dark about their treatment, they will not trust you.

Keeping them informed at all stages of their treatment is vital to build trust and help them understand the process. 

Hold regular meetings with them about their treatment. Provide them with as much information as you are able to give to help increase their awareness.

Also, if you keep them updated about the treatment process they will know what to expect. This can help diffuse anxiety and build trust. Nobody likes being surprised by things they were not expecting. 

6. Be Honest

Sometimes in difficult situations, it is easy to tell people what they want to hear. It can be an easy way out of a tense conversation.

However, honesty should be the core value of any drug rehab program. 

You will expect your patients to be honest with you about their substance abuse, but that honesty needs to go both ways.

Telling patients that progress has been slow, or that there has been a setback, or their condition has developed complications are tough conversations to have. But if you shy away from them, it will only make matters worse.

Giving patients false expectations can actually cause setbacks to their recovery.

Everyone involved in the treatment process needs to know exactly where they are and what to expect next.

7. Be Approachable

It is incredibly important that your patients feel that they can talk to you at any time. If you are not seen as being approachable and accessible, that will create a barrier to them communicating with you.

Let them know that your door is always open and that they can always come and talk. If it is not a convenient time, always schedule in another time, so they don’t feel rejected. 

8. Maintain Boundaries

When you are building relationships with your customers and patients it can be hard to work out the boundaries. 

You want to engage with them on a personal level and build their trust. But you also want them to become independent and take control of their recovery. 

Therefore it is important that you maintain professional boundaries at all time. 

Don’t encourage patients to contact you outside of work. It will set false expectations and nurture dependencies. 

Your patients need you to use your professional skills to aid their recovery. While you should do that in a friendly way, it is not your job to become their friend. 

Learn More About Building Customer Relationships

So those are eight tips for building customer relationships. 

Building relationships in a rehab center can be challenging, but also highly rewarding for both parties. 

Make sure your patients feel supported and listened to. 

Take time to get to know them and gain their trust. And let them know that they can approach you at any time.

Browse our articles on business and healthcare to find out more about maintaining customer relationships.