Building Trust during ELSA Sessions - Elsa Support

Building Trust during ELSA Sessions

Building Trust during ELSA Sessions

Building trust during ELSA sessions is crucial for creating a supportive and effective environment. The first session lays the foundation for this trust, and there are several strategies to ensure it is built successfully.

Introduce Yourself and the Purpose of ELSA
Start by explaining that you are there for them and that this is their time to talk and be heard without interruption. This helps set the tone that the sessions are a safe space dedicated to their needs and feelings. Our ELSA First aid kit can be a great opening activity.


Create a Comfortable Environment
Juice and a biscuit can make the atmosphere more relaxed and inviting. Sitting in comfy chairs or a sofa can be relaxing. These simple gestures can help break the ice and make the pupil feel more at ease.

Engage in Fun Activities
The first session is all about getting to know each other and understanding what ELSA is about. Playing games like “Would You Rather”,  or engaging in “All About Me” activities are great ways to initiate conversation and build rapport. These activities allow for a natural flow of conversation and make the session enjoyable.

Break the ice game unwind the mind  mindful colouring names

Be Honest and Open
It’s important to be honest with the children about the confidentiality of your conversations. Explain that what is discussed will stay between you two unless you have their permission to share or if there is a concern for their safety or the safety of others. This transparency helps build trust and reassures them that they are in a safe place. We have a confidentiality agreement here and there is a good poster in this pack.

Use Assessment Tools
Pupil assessment sheets can be very helpful in understanding the child’s needs and concerns. These tools provide insight and help tailor your approach to their specific situation.

Active Listening and Empathy
Show genuine interest in what the pupil says by listening attentively. Make eye contact, nod, and respond appropriately. Avoid interrupting and give them time to express their thoughts fully. Acknowledge their feelings and validate their experiences without judgment. Phrases like “I understand that you’re feeling…” can be very supportive. You can download our ‘active listening poster here’

Find Common Ground
Identify shared interests or activities you both enjoy. This can be anything from sports and music to games and movies. Shared interests can be a great starting point for deeper conversations. This will definitely be helpful with teens.

Encouragement and Praise
Offer positive reinforcement and praise their efforts and achievements. This builds their confidence and shows that you recognise and appreciate their strengths. Our stickers are brilliant for this

Consistency and Reliability
Show that you are someone they can count on. Consistency in your words and actions helps build trust over time. If you have to cancel the session make sure you go to see them to explain why. Tell them when you will take them next.

Set Boundaries
While it’s important to be friendly and approachable, maintaining clear boundaries helps establish a safe and respectful relationship. Remember you are not their friend, you are there in a professional capacity to give them support.

Be Patient
Building trust takes time, especially with young people who may be wary of adults or authority figures. Patience and persistence are key.

Engage in Activities Together
Participating in activities they enjoy or introducing them to new activities can create opportunities for bonding and positive interactions.

Share About Yourself
Tell them about your own life—your children, pets, likes, dislikes, and fears. This helps them see you as a real person and can encourage them to open up about their own lives.

Reassure and Validate
Always acknowledge and validate their feelings, thoughts, and actions. Reassure them that the ELSA room is a safe, friendly, and welcoming space.

Find time to check in

If you can find the time to check in with them between sessions, this will impact on building that relationship of trust. Our separation cards can be helpful for keeping that connection going especially during holidays or if you are off ill. They can also be used when your sessions have ended.

By using these strategies, you can build a positive and meaningful relationship with a young person, based on trust, respect, and mutual understanding. The first session is just the beginning, but with these steps, you set the stage for a successful and supportive ELSA journey.

Thank you to the ELSA FACEBOOK GROUP for your input with this blog post.

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