Respond to two colleagues who identified a different example than you:
Explain what major qualities or strengths you have that will be an asset to you when interviewing clients using that exemplified skill.
1. Open ended questions help the social worker to encourage the client to reflect and respond with their feelings, thoughts, and personal experiences. They tend to further exploration on a deeper level or in a broader way. For example, ask the client to elaborate about something he or she has just said or done. It also allows for unlimited responses. It can get the client to talk about her issues more or even make the client comfortable talking about topics. Two examples are what is your view of what happened? And what has it been like living with these issues? Next clarification’s responses also produce specific information social workers need to decide about a client’s case. Asking for clarification ensures the social worker does not misinterpret the client’s answer. “A skill that allows the social worker to identify more fully what a client is thinking, feeling, and experiencing (Cummins, L, p. 11, 2017).” Two examples are, this what you said? And did I hear you say?
2. In her first interview with her client Mrs. Bargas, Linda, a social worker, used open and closed-ended questions, as well as paraphrasing to get the client to share information about her situation. She begins by asking the open-ended question, “What brings you in today?” and Mrs. Bargas replies with a brief overview of the struggles she is facing. By beginning with an open-ended question, the social worker gives the client the opportunity to choose what they want to discuss (Cummins & Sevel, 2017). Linda then asks a closed-ended question, “Has this been hard on them?” referring to Mrs. Bargas’s children, to which she replies by simply nodding. Closed-ended questions can be used to ascertain details or determine the severity of a client’s feelings (Cummins & Sevel, 2017). In this case, the social worker uses the question to confirm her client’s worries and lead into more probing questions. Linda then paraphrases Mrs. Bargas’s concerns: “It sounds like you’ve been going through a lot since losing your job and your husband being in the hospital.” By repeating the client’s concerns, the social worker demonstrates that she is listening and understands what the client has told her.
Linda uses these techniques in her initial interview with Amy as well. She starts with another open-ended question, “How are things at home?” allowing Amy to list her concerns and vent her frustrations. She uses clarification by saying, “Tell me a little bit more about school. What do you mean by if they see you, it will get worse?” Asking clarifying questions helps the social worker understand the situation and lets the client know she is interested and listening (Cummins & Sevel, 2017). Linda continues the conversation with a closed-ended question, “Have you told anybody about these threats?” which leads Amy to describe why she has not told anyone. In a subsequent interview, Linda paraphrases their previous conversations stating, “Yes. You said that he overheard the girls talking about you and what they were going to do next.” Again, this lets the client know that the social worker has been paying attention and is invested in their case.
By combining the use of open and closed-ended questions with clarification and paraphrasing, the social worker was able to obtain information while building a trusting relationship with her clients. Knowing how and when to use each interviewing skill is critical to a social worker’s success.
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