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  1. 1. COMMON ERRORS IN DIRECT PRACTICE  Knowing how and when to correctly use social work interviewing skills provides the foundation for helping relationship.  Developing the competence to utilize the skills is a learned process.  Skills are not used in isolation, but in conjunction with each other as a way to further deepen and expand the relationship.  Social workers strive to ask the “perfect” open-ended question or deliver the “perfect” paraphrase.
  2. 2. 1. Interviewing pitfalls 1.1. Advice giving • Social workers should not tell the client what to do to solve the problem. • It is vital to the helping process that the client be an active participant in the therapeutic relationship. • People often know what they are supposed to do, but they are unable to follow through with this prescription, and keeps them from moving forward.
  3. 3.  Advice giving also subtly conveys that the person shouldn't be upset, after all, the problem can easily be solved with the advice you provide so quickly. In other words advice giving minimizes their concerns.  Advice giving fails to take into account a person’s unique experience and situation. Telling people what they “should do” implies that we know what’s best for them, when they are the experts on themselves.
  4. 4.  If people choose to follow our advice, they are the ones that actually have to live with the consequences, weighing the costs and benefits of each decision that is made.  Advice giving hardly defines someone’s options. There are typically many ways to handle a problem and for a social worker to say . “this is what you should do” limits the available options.
  5. 5.  Although people who are seeking help often ask “what should I do?” telling them what they should do falls short of truly helping them.  Clients benefit by developing their own problem solving skills, so they can answer future questions and find solutions for themselves.  Offering advice can sometimes curtail the necessary expression of emotion about a situation.  Jumping to advice giving is a way to stay removed from the other person’s experience .
  6. 6.  In therapeutic situations, we are going for a deeper level of interaction by allowing the client to explore and vent feelings about a situation, we are able o use empathy and enter into client’s experience (Corcoran, 2012)  Social workers should not give advice regarding the ends or major life decisions that clients have to make for themselves.  Once a client has made a decision that involves the end point or goal, giving advice about how to reach the goal can be very helpful and instructive.
  7. 7. 1.2. Inappropriate use of humour  Humour is a way of defusing the emotions and anxiety clients’ face when working with a social worker.  This suggests that it is humour, which allows the social worker to ‘appear more approachable.”  Social workers often want to be seen as humorous as the opposite, humourless individuals are valued less by society and are less likely to have successful interactions and relationships with their clients.
  8. 8.  Humour is common to human existence and it is possible that humour has a unique potential for demonstrating particular characteristics of a social worker,  So when applied sensitively and appropriately it could be a useful tool to enable social workers to help clients manage their own emotions.  When a social worker uses humour inappropriately, the client can feel belittled, criticized or mocked
  9. 9.  Clients may believe that you are minimizing the problem and not taking them seriously (Kadushin & Kadushin, 1997).  If the social worker makes an inappropriate comment, it could deeply anger the client.  The social worker may find humour in the client’s situation, but the client may not have the same subjective perspective.  Inappropriate use of humor can also convey that the social worker is not empathic or sensitive to the client’s point of view.
  10. 10.  For example, John is a 45 year old client who is frustrated because he has been unable to find a job.  Cracking a joke about becoming homeless or begging on the streets is ill timed and insensitive.  John will assume that you are not taking his unemployment situation seriously and will feel foolish for coming to you in the first place.
  11. 11.  Certainly, humour has its place in any human relationships, and it can lighten the tension.  Sometimes the best thing to do in a crisis is to diffuse some of the seriousness with lightness, to allow the sadness to be lifted with hope (Brems, 2001).  Laughing and humour can also help the client see the situation in a different light.  In the counselling relationship there may be humorous moments, however, that should not detract from the professional helping process.
  12. 12. 1.3. Interrupting the client and abrupt transitions  In the course of an interview, social workers ask many questions.  The social worker who is attuned to the client is an active listener and aware of the verbal and nonverbal cues signifying that the client has not finished speaking.
  13. 13.  Having made the decision to effect a transition, the interviewer has to watch for a logical point at which to smoothly terminate the topic under discussion and introduce a new topic.  This raises the question of perhaps the most abrupt transition of all-interruption of the interviewee by the interviewer.  In the face of a determined nonstop interviewee, interruption to effect a transition may be difficult.
  14. 14.  The interviewer may need to be clear in regaining the initiative , this may require a sentence like “ permit me, I know I am interrupting, but I wonder if I can say something about this? Or “ May I interrupt for a moment, please”.  In trying to regain control of the interview from a talkative interviewee the interviewer needs to use a transition with a lead in:
  15. 15. I appreciate your sharing these experiences with me, but I wonder if we can continue our discussion of---- It is very nice hearing all about your grandchildren, but because we have limited time, we should focus more directly on----  But be cautious. Interrupting when you cannot justify the interruptions in terms of the needs of the interview derogates the interviewee’s autonomy, and a struggle for status and control of the direction of the interview may result.
  16. 16.  Frequently, inexperienced interviewers tend to interrupt when such an intervention is not clearly warranted.  The interviewer intervenes and takes control of the interviewee before it is clear that the interviewee has finished.  This tendency is another carryover from some habits of conversation, when we interrupt each other frequently with impunity and without apology.
  17. 17.  There is some ironic justice in the oft-made comment that nothing is quite annoying as to have somebody go right on talking when you are interrupting.  Transitions that are abrupt-for which there is no preparation and that might appear to the interviewee to be illogical- are apt to be upsetting.  Interviewees know what they were doing and suddenly, the interviewer moves them to something else, and they aren't clear how they got there or why
  18. 18.  Frequently, the significance of the topic the interviewer is introducing is not clear to the interviewee, no matter how obvious the connection is to the social worker “ transitions to new topics require (interviewees) to stop and think, to relocate themselves; this may be necessary, but it tends to be unsetting (Weiss, 1994:80).  Preparation for transition, then, should include some explicit statement of the relationship between new content and the purpose of the interview.
  19. 19.  The interviewer should be aware that the need for focus that is served by using transitions may be antithetical to the need for rapport.  In some instances the interviewer may have to sacrifice focus for rapport and permit the interviewee a greater freedom, even though this is clearly unproductive in achieving the specific interview purposes.
  20. 20.  It is best not to make a transition to other content unless you can spend some time on the new material. Whenever the context of the interview shifts, both participants have to readjust their perception of the situation.  Transitions that are too rapid and too frequent may signal that the interviewer has no clear idea of how to conduct the interview and does not know what is most relevant to discuss.
  21. 21. 1.4.Inappropriate and irrelevant questions  As social workers we are inquisitives about our client’s lives.  We are interested in asking them questions about what makes them tick, however, be careful not to over question a client.  Asking too many questions may make the interview seem more like an interrogation than a helping session (Egan, 2007).  Use questions to get only needed information.  Irrelevant questions do not produce new and helpful information
  22. 22.  The social worker doesn’t have the inherent right to all information about the client, only the information that is essential to the helping process.  Seeking information about the client that is not relevant to the presenting problem may feed the social worker’s curiosity and interest, but is not in the client’s best interest.  This is a misuse of the client-social worker relationship.  Asking questions unrelated to the problem can also cause a lack of focus in the session
  23. 23.  Examples of problematic questions: Client: “ I work day and night; I never have enough time with my family. And, if I am with the, I fall asleep” Social Worker:” You really don’t mean that you fall asleep, do you?”  In reality, the social worker is telling the client how she thinks he should respond. This may cause the client to pretend to agree.  Controlling or intrusive questions-ignores the client’s agenda and needs and instead focuses on the social worker’s interests, usually for some personal reason
  24. 24. Client:” My company is going down the tubes. I have no money set aside. My wife is so angry at me for losing the business. She is starting to pull away too” Social Worker:”I don’t want to focus on your marital finances right now, please tell me about your sexual practices”  In reality, the social worker is meeting her own needs, her curiosity about the client’s sex life versus the financial difficulties within the marriage. Or conversely, the social worker may be comfortable talking about finances and steers clear of more intimate material
  25. 25. 1.5. Judgmental response  The client is coming to the social worker with help, not to be judged.  Part of the social worker’s role is to understand the client’s problems, with that understanding, the social worker helps the client to find solutions to the problem.  If the client perceives that he or she is being labeled or judged, a defensive response may occur that can delay or impeded the development of trust between the client and the social worker.
  26. 26.  This could create further difficulties in the helping relationship because the client will not feel comfortable discussing personal information and may view the relationship as an adversarial one (Hepworth et al, 2010).  As a social worker, it is sometimes difficult to separate our personal feelings, values, and beliefs from our professional values and obligations.  Part of a social worker’s professional development includes accepting clients who may have very different values, perspectives and life styles.
  27. 27.  Respecting differences and not expecting clients to see the world the same way as the social worker is a core social work value. For example: Lisa is a 30 year old female who recently came out to friends and family about her relationship with her partner, Milly. Today, Lisa discloses that she is exploring the possibility of becoming pregnant through artificial insemination. The social worker responds negatively to her plan, stating, “ Its one thing to be a lesbian, its another to bring a child into this.
  28. 28. Have you thought about how your child will be affected by your decision?” Lisa will likely react with disbelief, in part because up to this point the social worker has appeared supportive of her lifestyle. Now that the social worker’s true feelings (judgments) have surfaced, Lisa is likely to respond defensively and with anger and therefore withdraw from the helping relationship.