Establishing Rapport and Overcoming Stigma with Military Clients: Insights from the Field and Beyond

  • Randall Nedegaard
Keywords: deployment, military cultural competence, stigma, mental health, rapport


Mental health issues in the military are becoming more prevalent, increasing by 65% over the past decade (Blakeley & Jansen, 2013). Adjustment to military stresses, including deployment and reintegration, take their toll on everyone involved, to include the mental health provider. This article focuses on the lessons learned by one former military mental health provider regarding the importance of establishing meaningful therapeutic bonds with clients. Several case examples from the deployed environment are used, as well as lessons learned from the author's personal experience with becoming a client. These help illustrate how difficult vulnerability can be within a military population. The importance of engaging in competent military cultural practice and the means by which one can gain additional military cultural competence are discussed.