Rebstock M E: The effects of training in matching techniques on the development of rapport between client and counselor during initial counseling interviews.
Dissertation Abstracts International 41(3), 946-A University of Missouri (Order = 8019148): 89, 1980.
Abstract: The importance of what is loosely termed "rapport" has been discussed by many theorists and often has been stressed in counselor education training programs, especially at the practicum stage. Different researchers have attempted to identify the essential ingredients of the ideal counseling relationship. These essential ingredients, which include empathy, warmth, genuineness, and unconditional positive regard on the part of the counselor, are what have been alluded to in discussions of rapport. A review of the literature identified numerous studies which have focused upon varying client or counselor characteristics as such affected the development of rapport; however, little attention has been given to specific techniques which could be used to build rapport. Bandler and Grinder, after studying the work of successful therapists, identified specific techniques, matching skills, which could be taught to and employed by counselors in building rapport with clients. This study was an attempt to demonstrate how training in matching techniques could be incorporated into a graduate course in counselor education. Although there was no empirical evidence which specifically supported the value of matching techniques in the development of rapport, research in nonverbal aspects of communication suggested matching of client behaviors would be beneficial in building rapport. Two groups of twelve male and female graduate counseling students were given training in matching techniques and conducted two interviews with clients which the group members had not met previously. One group of twelve subjects was trained before conducting the first interview, while the second group of twelve subjects was not trained until after conducting the first interview. Both groups had been trained before the second set of interviews was conducted. Following completion of the tape recorded interviews, both clients and counselors completed an interview rating scale to establish the level of rapport achieved. Judges made independent behavior counts of matched representational predicates from the tape recordings. One research hypothesis was that there would be differences between interviews conducted by trained counselors and those conducted by untrained counselors in respect to client rapport ratings, the percentage of agreement between client and counselor rapport ratings, and the number of matched representational predicates. Another research hypothesis was that there would be a positive relationship between client rapport ratings and number of matched predicates. The results of the data analyses failed to support any of the stated hypotheses. The conclusion was made that training in matching techniques as conducted in this study had no effect on development of rapport between clients and counselors. Three possible explanations for the lack of an effect were given. First, the spontaneous occurrence of matching behaviors may have accounted for the lack of a difference. Second, training may have interrupted the counseling relationship, at least until the trainees became skilled in the use of the newly acquired skills. Third, matching techniques may have been irrelevant in the development of rapport. It was recommended that further research on matching techniques in relation to rapport be conducted, since the present study demonstrated the lack of effectiveness of a particular training design, not necessarily the lack of effectiveness of matching techniques in general.