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Communication and Problem Solving

This chapter examines the problems of communication and offers proven strategies for improving communication. As a carer you are faced with the challenge of delivering holistic care. Holistic means paying attention to the physical, emotional and behavioral aspects of those in your care — you need to take care of the whole person. Some clients develop emotional and behavioral problems together with a physical disability. Others have a past history of psychiatric illness that may or may not re-emerge, along with a current physical problem. The carer–client relationship, no matter how brief, has the capacity to be a rewarding or a negative experience. Effective communication is the crucial building block of all interpersonal relationships. Communication is a process of discovering and conveying meaning; it is a process of moving toward one’s life purpose; it is the way we are known by others and come to know them; and it is one way we learn about ourselves. In order to communicate well, you must have knowledge of the communication process and an ability to analyse it.

You need an understanding of environmental and cultural components of communication as a framework for purposeful interaction with others. When communication goes awry, people feel devalued and misunderstood and sometimes they become alienated, bitter, lonely and frustrated. Through effective carer–client communication there is a chance that clients will become aware of their behavioral problems. Such insight is a good basis for effective problem-solving. Problem-solving is a beneficial activity when you are seeking improved outcomes and resolutions. Instead of accepting immediate and impulsive answers to difficulties, you make use of an appropriate problem-solving framework to arrive at a more objective position. Essentially all problem solving consists of a four-stage construct of assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating, and these are examined in depth.

Contents include

  • communicating effectively
  • knowing yourself
  • when effective communication is inadequate
  • the stages of the solution-focused behavioural change model
  • the model in practice.
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Author / Editor Biographies

Bernadette Keane is a highly experienced nurse educator who lectured for nine years in the psychiatric nursing programs conducted at Royal Park Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. In addition to psychiatry, her clinical background and qualifications include medical, surgical, midwifery and infant welfare areas of care. In 1982, as a Kellogg Nursing Fellow, she studied at the University of California, San Francisco. Since then she has published journal articles and textbook chapters on health care and professional issues. In 1986 Bernadette launched her private practice, called Continuing Educati...
Carolyn Dixon was, from 1995 to early 1999, the psychiatric clinical nurse consultant in the Emergency Department of St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Her work there began as a project to study the effectiveness of this innovative role. Carolyn is a trained psychiatric and general nurse who has worked in hospital, education and community settings both in Australia and overseas. It was while she was working as a nurse teacher at Royal Park Hospital in Melbourne that she first worked with Bernadette Keane. Carolyn has presented a number of conference papers on aspects of psychiatric...

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