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Taped Role Play - Discussion Paper


Submitted By dm666
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The interaction was a single 20 minute session with a young married mother of two school-age children. To enable me to work with the helpee and develop empathic understanding of the issue from her perspective I recognised differences in our age and marital status which would help me maintain focus on her viewpoint. I identified a possible block to my understanding could be our different cultural upbringings and by being aware of this I was able to remain present in the helpee’s world. (3.2)

I began the session explaining my limitations as a trainee and that I would be using counselling skills during our session. I went on to outline confidentiality, its meaning and exceptions, at the end of this I asked if she understood and was happy to continue as well as if she had any questions she would like to ask. On review I would expand on the explanation of my skills limitation by assuring the helpee that if I felt I was nearing the limits of my ability I would make her aware and offer appropriate referral if required. Also in addition to asking if the helpee understood confidentiality and had any questions I would include her at the outset by asking her own understanding of confidentiality and making the initial contract one that we had negotiated and arrived at together (1.2 & 2.2)

On listening back I realised I failed to make clear the 20 minute duration, which is something I have not omitted to do in previous interactions as I am aware of the importance of setting a time boundary to keep the session safe and focussed for the helpee and facilitate best practice. (2.1) I did, however, stress the time was the helpee’s in which to talk about whatever she wished, this enabled her to feel comfortable so that she felt content to begin discussing her issues. (4.1)

The helpee stated her main concern and continued explaining additional worries that her issue gave rise too. I used short affirmative responses such as “mmm”, “ok”, “right”, “uh-huh” and “I see” to assure her I was listening and understood her concerns. I clarified the root of her problem by restating using her own words to keep her focussed and guide her back to the main problem she had identified. This had the effect of enabling her to pinpoint more specifically her cause of concern. I used an open question to ask “how long it had been an issue?”, which led her to reveal although present for many years it was only recently it had become more of a reality. She spoke at length about the effects and benefits to her husband so I asked how she felt, which allowed her to consider her own response and reflect on her feelings. (6.2) I sensed her apprehension, which she agreed and expanded by recognising her own differing responses: from sadness surrounding the situation; and, then I recognised a change in her speech and demeanour as she spoke of her own achievements. I used reflection to feedback her feelings so she was able to accept and acknowledge them. I paraphrased how she had described discussing practicalities and facts of her issue with her husband and asked if she had also discussed how she felt. From this she was able to face that she hadn’t and she then considered the reasons for that. I said I sensed her frustration at not being able to communicate her feelings to her husband but instead of leaving it at that for her to reflect upon - on review of the tape I continued to ask if that was because she felt “he didn’t understand or didn’t want to”. I also asked around the same time “does he think”. Both of these are things I will endeavour not to do again as I don’t want to put thoughts into the helpee's mind but wish to allow them to find their own answers and reflect on their thoughts and feelings not speculate on those of others, which would detract from remaining focussed on their agenda. (4.3)

To move the session forward I used a challenge to ask “Why she felt the issue was more of a reality now?”, this allowed her to clarify factors that contributed to her main concern and enabled expansion of her problems and what she saw resulting from them. I then picked up on her use of the phrase “little issues adding up” which I restated, from this she was able to prioritise her worries and decide herself which was the most important. It also led her to question if she was thinking too far ahead (6.3). Reviewing the taped session I could have picked up on the main worry her issue caused as she mentioned it at both the beginning of the session and in more detail later on. Had I done so I would have used para-phrasing to enable her to focus on what she had said, thereby helping her to come to terms with it. I informed her we were approaching the end of the session and summarised our discussion to clarify my understanding and allow her to reflect on what she’d said and correct any errors. I felt I didn’t handle this particularly well but on review I was pleased to note I had made a good summary of the important points and unknowingly used words (practical, difficult) that she had used throughout the session. (6.1) I ended by thanking her for sharing her concerns and checking she was content and happy to leave, thereby maintaining the safety of the session throughout. (2.4)

In listening back I was pleased to note I had listened empathically throughout and my own agenda and feelings had not played any part as I had been immersed in the helpee’s world and understanding of her issues as if seeing them through her eyes. (3.4)

In conclusion I felt it went well but, to ensure improvement for future sessions I will pay particular attention to: fine tune the initial contract, making greater use of negotiation and inclusion of the helpee; place greater emphasis on the time boundary reinforcing safe practice; ensure I do not ask inappropriate questions; strive to make equal use of para-phrasing, sensing of feelings and reflection, rather than lean on one skill, thereby achieving balance to the session; make greater use of listening for and identifying recurring thoughts/statements to further empower the helpee to make their own decisions; and, take time not to rush the ending ensuring the best possible outcome for the helpee.

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