It is based on three elements:
1.Everyone wants listening and understanding.
That means that the listener must have listening skills and empathy.
That also means that understanding is required and that agreement is irrelevant.
The mental approach is called ‘unconditional positive regard’. This means the suspension of judgement and ego is needed in order to pay full attention to the other person. Let them tell their story without interrupting or being defensive. As they talk, you need to communicate your understanding. Genuine responses that keep them talking.
2. Everyone wants to be valued and included.
Start with the intention that the patient has something to offer. They have values, wants, and concerns that are valid to them. They are an expert on their own body and careful listening will reveal valuable diagnostic information and their outcome. It is incumbent on the interviewer to ask good questions, be curious, and follow up appropriately. The patients desired outcome is an essential determination.
3. Everyone wants to be engaging in something worthwhile and meaningful.
Once a patient knows that they are understood, that the outcome they desire is the goal of treatment, and that they will be supported in the effort, they follow through. The remaining barriers are money, time, inconvenience, and fear. If they truly believe they are getting what they want, the first three mean much less.
Fear is a separate issue to be dealt with. If trust has been built, it will lessen. Empathy and compassion help sort out a means of dealing with fear. All fear must be validated. The fear is real even if the reason for the fear is obscure. The reason is not relevant. Fear can be very deep seated and may be from a psychological trauma that has been suppressed. If possible, identify the fear or anxiety producing behaviors or objects. If they cannot be eliminated then sedation or anesthesia may be the answer.
Photo by Dave Hutt, www.dmddigitalphoto.com
Mirror neuron cells allow us to connect with one another. We can work together, learn together, and reap benefits together from cooperation. A question arises...why do we tear up when someone is kind to us? Why the glow when we feel understood?
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” is a phrase that we throw around. Mark Goulston,MD has a hypothesis that seems to work. He would go farther, “Sometimes people aren’t able to care about what you want them to do, until they feel cared about by you.” The reason for that is that when people feel un-mirrored and uncared for, they are experiencing a MNRD (mirror neuron receptor deficit), they are in a state of emotional deprivation. Because of that, their focus is often distracted by trying to correct that deprivation rather than focusing on what they need to get done. When accurately mirrored, they feel temporarily complete. That usually crosses over into feeling grateful and often the desire to follow through and take steps towards getting well.
I see this with chronically fearful patients. They have fears that they have difficulty controlling. They are embarrassed, feel stupid, unworthy, and broken. Those feelings are often reinforced by health care providers that communicate that those very real fears are stupid and getting in the way. In my experience and in my investigations, many have been victims of child abuse or sexual abuse. They have had some trauma that has caused a version of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They may not even connect prior abuse to their fears. Something bad happened to them and the emotions are deep seated. They deserve understanding and compassion. When the fear is acknowledged, they feel believed and empathized, they respond.
They feel emotionally touched, disarmed and even overwhelmed when someone acknowledges their pain. Tears and gratitude are common. They do often follow through.
photo by Dave Hutt, www.dmddigitalphoto.com