The relationship between helping professionals and their clients is vital for the interactive construction of the helping process and for obtaining the institutional goal(s). As “working alliance” this relationship is an established success factor in therapeutic interactions as well as other helping formats: „The quality of the client–therapist alliance is a reliable predictor of positive clinical outcome independent of the variety of psychotherapy approaches and outcome measures“ (Ardito & Rabellino 2011: 1, for coaching see Behrendt 2011).
Despite its centrality for helping professional interactions (Graf & Spranz-Fogasy i.pr.), linguistic research on practices of relationship building is still relatively scarce. As argued by Scarvaglieri (2013), in psychotherapy the relationship between client and therapist is managed on different verbal and non-verbal levels of interaction (e.g. turn-taking, sequentiality, spatial positioning, initiation and treatment of topics, pauses and intonation) to thoroughly involve and activate the client. This “hearer-centeredness” (Scarvaglieri 2017) contributes to building and managing the therapeutic relationship and forms a vital condition for change. Graf (in press) defines “Building a Relationship” as one of the four basic activities of coaching. It builds on various communicative tasks such as ‘Establishing the roles and identities ‘coach’ and ‘client’’ or ‘Negotiating hierarchy in an asymmetrical relationship’ and serves as the matrix against which all other activities of coaching transpire. In this realm, Spranz-Fogasy (1992) classifies relationship building as a “permanent task” in doctor-patient interaction. On the interactional micro-level, research by Muntigl, Horvath and others (e.g. Muntigl & Horvath 2014) addresses practices of affiliation and dis-affiliation in therapeutic relationship as sequential achievements.
The panel brings together research on practices of relationship building across various types of helping professions such as (psycho-)therapy, coaching, doctor-patient interaction and physiotherapy. Questions to be addressed in this panel include the following:
- What are interaction-type specific and unspecific practices of relationship building across the discussed helping professions?
- How do practices of relationship building develop and change across supra-sessions of action?
- How do verbal and bodily practices of relationship building contribute to the overall regulation of a professional relationship?
- How do practices of relationship building contribute to the local effectiveness of the professional interaction?