6.2 Welcoming Clients

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Establishing a positive welcome at the start of the session is important to ensure the client feels safe and is able to explain why they are seeking help. The first 5 minutes of a client interaction will set the tone for the remainder of the session.

Activity 1

Thinking about your own sessions with clients, or others you have witnessed in the office, what things can contribute to a positive welcome?

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There are many different things that can help a client feel welcomed at the start of the session. You may have thought about things that you say to the client, the way in which it is said, body language and the layout of the office. All of these elements are important. We will look at some of the most important below.

When clients come into the office for the first time, they are likely to be dealing with one of the most difficult events they have ever faced. Representing themselves in court proceedings is stressful and can be overwhelming. Their reaction to this will vary from client to client. Being aware the effect this is having on the client can help you understand their presentation and establish an environment which encourages them to seek and receive information and support.

Activity 2

Below is a list of things a volunteer could do when a client first comes in the office. Please highlight in green the ones which will encourage a positive welcome and help the client feel able to tell you why they have come. Highlight the ones that don't in red.

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Click on the colour you want to use and then drag your cursor over the text you want to highlight. The return arrow icon erases the single last highlighting you did. If you want to clear all of your highlighting use the Reset button. When you have completed all of your highlighting click on the Save button. To check your answers click on Reveal answer.

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It is important to give the client your full attention, make them feel welcome and explain what Support Through Court can help with before asking them to explain why they have come.

A good plan for welcoming clients is:

  • If not already with clients, stop chatting or eating, etc. If you need a break this is fine, arrange this with your Service Manager so that you are away from clients.
  • Pay full attention to the client, smile and make them feel welcome
  • Introduce yourself with your first name
  • Look out for any special needs or reactions to be aware of
  • Offer tea, coffee or water
  • Invite the client to sit down and ask them to complete the Support Through Court paperwork (Consent form and About You form), explaining the limits of the service by going through the consent form
  • Invite the client’s story with an open question.

Did you know?

An open question is one which requires the client to answer with a number of words and sentences (as opposed to a closed question which simply needs a one word answer such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’). You could simply ask: Why have you come to see us today?

6.3 Structuring your client interaction