Journal Article

Trust Development: A Discussion of Three Approaches and a Proposed Alternative

Behnam Behnia

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 38, issue 7, pages 1425-1441
Published in print October 2008 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online July 2007 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Trust Development: A Discussion of Three Approaches and a Proposed Alternative

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The importance of building a trusting relationship with clients has been acknowledged and emphasized by helping professions such as social work, psychotherapy, nursing, and medicine. A review of literature reveals the presence of three approaches to trust development, each emphasizing one of the components of a trusting relationship: the client’s trusting attitude, the professional’s trusting characteristics, and the characteristics of the relationship that exists between the client and the professional. The contention of this paper is that the trust described by these approaches is the initial trust necessary for starting a relationship with a service provider. However, to disclose intimate information, the client and professional need to develop a trust deeper than the initial trust. Drawing on the theoretical insights of the symbolic interactionist perspective, this paper presents a fourth approach to trust development. In this approach, trust is conceived as the outcome of a complex process involving the interpretation of the situation in which the interacting client and service provider find themselves.

Keywords: trust; initial trust; self-concept, perceived self; definition of the situation

Journal Article.  7848 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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