By Joyce Lishman (auth.)
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Extra resources for Communication in Social Work
Written records Social workers spend a considerable amount of time engaged in recording, but like report-writing this is a neglected area in social work education and literature. Before identifying the skills required to record clearly, accurately and appropriately it is necessary to examine the purpose of recording. Purposes are multiple and may be in conflict. Payne (1978) provides a framework to analyse the purpose of written records. However the analysis predates the legislation giving clients the right of access to files held on them by housing and social services departments.
With accurate emotion and an identification of the experiences or behaviours underlying these feelings, 'you feel... ' Accurate empathic responses such as this can help a client to explore further problematic areas or feelings,· and identify and focus on key issues and feelings. We need to take time to think about the client's core message and not rush in with an attempted empathic response. Our responses need to be brief or they interfere with the client's story or self exploration. Empathy is not conveyed by the following responses: • no response - the client may feel the issue or feeling is not worthy of a response, or simply not understood; • a question - again, this deflects from or ignores the core message; • a cliche - this trivialises the uniqueness and significance of this particular client; • immediate action- this deflects from and ignores the client's feelings.
G. anxiety about illness or death often seems too frightening to raise, and what is talked about is almost a smoke-screen. g. debt, mental health problems and difficulties with the children. These can be overwhelming for client and worker if some more limited focus is not agreed on. Where can we start? Egan (1986) suggests a set of principles which may help the worker to focus: • If the client is in a crisis, start with the crisis. • Focus on what the client sees as important or feels as most painful.