Client-therapist relationships: Experiences of occupational therapy clients in rehabilitation

Gudrun Palmadottir*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    53 Citations (Scopus)


    The relationship between a therapist and his or her client has been recognised to be an important determinant of the success or failure of occupational therapy. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore clients' perceptions of the relationship that they formed with their occupational therapist in the context of rehabilitation. Twenty clients with varied health problems were interviewed. The analysis of data revealed three main categories, therapist role, power and connection, as pertaining to the characteristics of the client-therapist relationship. From these categories, seven different relationship dimensions were identified and arranged hierarchically. The dimensions were described as concern, direction, fellowship, guidance, coalition, detachment and rejection. Relationships were generally experienced as positive; however, there were also examples of negative and detrimental experiences. The findings are discussed in relation to the definition of the therapeutic relationship and to client-centred practice. Occupational therapists are encouraged to consider their own attitudes, needs and boundaries when it comes to establishing close connections and to share power with their clients. Furthermore, therapists must explore which form of relationship and participation each client prefers in order to establish an effective collaborative relationship.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)394-401
    Number of pages8
    JournalBritish Journal of Occupational Therapy
    Issue number9
    Publication statusPublished - Sept 2006


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