This assignment is a critical reflection on the in-class roleplay demonstration where I played the role of a social worker from the Department of Human Services (DHS) and another batch-mate played the role of Marika, the client. A social worker is bound to have a complete understanding of the objectives and goals of the process of counselling so as to be able to meet the client needs. (Geldard, 1989) My aim during the interview was to see how well I am able to demonstrate the behaviours and micro-skills that are required by a social worker while interviewing and empathising with the client.
When Marika entered the room, I greeted her and politely asked her to sit down comfortably. I initiated a small talk with her in order to make her feel at ease and establish a sound rapport with her. I asked her if she had found any problem coming to the place and how was she doing? I began the interview by introducing myself and clarifying my role as a social worker at the DHS. Then, I explained to her Confidentiality clause as enshrined in the AASW Code of Ethics so that she is able to feel safe and talk openly.
I intended to explore about her life, so, I asked about her family and her relationships with all the family members to understand her issues better. She started opening up slowly and gave some in-depth answers to my questions. It was an engaging conversation and I actively listened to her, reflected back her feelings, empathised with her and also helped her set a small goal for herself. I maintained a good eye contact with her and a positive body language to make her feel that she has my complete attention.
At the termination of the session, I observed that she was keen on disclosing more about her issues and I was able to achieve this objective by utilising the micro-skills such as- paraphrasing, empathising, mutual goal setting, reflecting back the feelings, summarizing and using minimal responses. The demonstration of micro skills like paraphrasing, reflecting, summarising, empathising etc. usually brings about a very positive impact on the interview and helps in strengthening the client-social worker relationship.
Below discussed are some of the micro-skills I demonstrated during the interview- 1. Empathy- I tried to empathise with Marika in the best ways possible. When she said that there is a complete communication breakdown between her and her husband, I said, “I understand you. It must be so difficult to be not able to communicate with your husband. ” Genuine empathy helped Marika to talk about her relationship with her husband and her problems more openly. 2. Active Listening through Body Language- I also used non-verbal SOLER technique (Egan, 2002) which means that I faced Marika squarely, had an open posture, leaned towards her and maintained a good eye contact with her throughout the conversation.
This helped Marika to feel at ease and she looked confident and more relaxed. It proved to be an effective technique in demonstrating that I was paying complete attention to my client. 3. Paraphrasing and Reflection of feelings- One of the most important factors in effective interviewing is paraphrasing and proper reflection of feelings (O’Hara and Weber, 2006) so, I used phrases like- “it seems you”, “it looks like” to reflect back Marika’s feelings to show empathy and accurately represented the emotions that she expressed (O’Hara and Weber, 2006) For example- “It seems that you have been missing your elder daughter very much.
You are a very loving mother. ” 4. Questioning- I asked both close and open ended questions like- “Has anything happened in the recent past? ”, “Why do you feel bored at your job? ”, I also asked probing questions like, “Is there anything else you’d like to talk about? ” These questions helped in promoting Marika’s involvement in the conversation, prompting her in giving some in-depth responses. Besides these, I also demonstrated micro-skills like- mutual goal setting, use of minimal responses etc. Though I tried demonstrating good interviewing skills, I believe, there still is a large room for improvement.
After getting the feedback from my tutor and batch-mates and also by self-reflection, I think, I was too much in a hurry to solve my client’s problems and perhaps this is why I asked her twice if she had anything else to talk about? This approach stands in way of focusing and concentrating on one issue at a time and also, it is too premature to start resolving the issues in the very first session only. I plan to never do it again. I also need to work on structuring the interview and follow the five stages of micro-skills hierarchy properly (Ivey and Bradford Ivey, 2003). In future, I’d be more mindful and careful with the proper structuring.
Another skill that I need to improve upon is better summarizing. Accurate summarising clarifies emotions for the social worker and the client both, helps in reviewing the work done so far and starting the process of focusing on most important/relevant issues. This role play was my first step towards the world of social work practice. I aim to practice and rehearse all the counselling skills that I have learnt at the lectures and tutorials for greater learning outcomes and a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. I plan to reflect and summarize more accurately and effectively as part of my future learning goals.
Summarising helps you sum up the main topics that have come up and you are able to assemble scattered feelings and focus on the most relevant issues. And, reflection enables the client to feel that you are trying your best to understand what they are feeling or saying and it helps them to direct their thoughts and also, they are encouraged to continue talking. For a comfortable environment, I would also like to work on gaining the client confidence and building rapport by finding the right approach and right way to address their issues and for this, I will have to thoroughly go through the theories and micro-skills that I’ve studied so far.
In short, in order to enhance my social work practice skills, I aim to continuously work towards rectifying my shortcomings, strengthening my strengths and providing quality services to my clients. In conclusion, I’d say, this simulated role play activity was a great learning as well as challenging experience for me. The activity gave me an opportunity to transform the theories, skills learnt during the course into practice. I have now become more aware of my strengths and weaknesses, which areas of direct social work practice etc.