Interpersonal Skills and Therapeutic Communication
The task we were asked to do was to record a video displaying a role play based on an experience that we had either experienced or observed in a situation where therapeutic communication took place. My video involved myself and a 5-year-old child trying to create a Christmas decoration in reception, the class that I work with in my placement. Due to confidentiality, I could not name the child by their real name and so I refer to them as Neil, the name of my colleague who was playing the child. In this reflective essay I will be describing and analysing the interpersonal communication and therapeutic relationship within the scenario. In doing this I will engage reflective skills based upon Johns’ model (2000), and will be using evidence from other communication theorists. Johns’ reflective model is laid out in the following steps: Phenomenon – description of the experience; Causal – what essential factors contributed to this experience; Context – what are the significant background factors to this experience; Reflection – what was I trying to achieve, what were the consequences, how did I and the client feel about the experience, what factors/knowledge influenced my decisions and actions; Alternative actions – what other choices did I have and what would the consequences of these have been; Learning – what have I learnt from this experience, could I have dealt with the situation better. I will be using these steps in order to reflect on the interaction and behaviour involved in my role-play.
Therapeutic relationships can be interpreted in many different ways. Ramjan (2004) suggests that there are key elements involved in a therapeutic relationship. These elements are: ‘Trust and commitment; Accurate empathy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness; Honesty and support; Confidentiality, non-judgemental attitude, responsiveness and consistency’. I feel that all of these elements are essential in developing a therapeutic relationship with a client, in addition to maintaining professionalism, being aware of certain barriers, listening, appreciating other people’s beliefs and values and being non-biased. There is a great importance for professionals in health and social care to develop effective skills in therapeutic relationships. Many of these skills contribute to therapeutic relationships, which include elements such as active listening, empathetic interaction and a non-judgemental attitude. However there are other aspects that need to be considered. Egan (2002) developed an approach called ‘The Skilled Helper’. In this approach, he suggests a key element that health and social care practitioners should use in order help young people become better at helping themselves in their everyday lives through development and therapeutic relationships. Skills that are involved in a therapeutic relationship can be verbal or non-verbal. Practitioners can use their paralinguistic features, such as hand gestures, body language and eye contact, to be welcoming, reassuring and encouraging, amongst other interactions. Egan (2002) also composed a non-verbal learning process, which can be used in communication as part of his approach. This process is known as SOLER. This is an acronym for:
‘S Sit SQUARELY on to the client, preferably at a 5 o’clock position to avoid the possibility of staring O Maintain an OPEN posture at all times, not crossing your arms or legs which can appear defensive
L LEAN slightly in towards the client
E Maintain eye contact with the client, without staring
R RELAX. This should in turn help the client to relax’.
Ahmad et al (2005) composed a list of characteristics that professionals should possess which are considered as helpful to young people. One of these characteristics is to be welcoming and make the young person feel comfortable. I feel that I displayed this in my role-play...
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