The interpersonal and intrapersonal skills that an occupational therapist should possess are vital to the outcome of a successful therapist-client therapeutic relationship. The occupational therapist must have an excellent communication skills in order to effectively relate to the client, collect sufficient information from the client and consequently deliver high-quality healthcare.
The field of Occupational Therapy is the health professional discipline I have chosen to undertake in this assignment.This essay aims to discuss the specific communication and interpersonal relationship features that characterise occupational therapy and the particular intra-personal qualities that practitioners would need to work successfully in this practice. The specific communication skills that would be essential in such situations will also be discussed. The degree to which I possess these qualities will be reflected and determine what I could improve and develop. Communication and interpersonal relationship features.Therapists must have the ability to communicate happily and productively with the client and use communication skills such as listening, problem solving, teaching, and counselling (Craven & Hirnle, 2003).
The ability to listen and to be attentive to the client is highly beneficial to the occupational therapist. The therapist is able to obtain information for written reports and also conveys to the client that the therapist is interested in them. As well as listening to the verbal cues given by the client, the therapist must also pay attention to the non-verbal cues.The correct recipe is to fully attend, listen and then respond (Rungapadiachy, 1999).
Therapists solve problems by interacting and working with the client, their family members, and other healthcare team members. Occupational therapists take everyday activities that people are having difficulty performing, for whatever reason, physical, emotional or some other, and help them to do those things again (Labovitz, 2003). Occupational therapists help clients help themselves. Every healthcare professional must communicate observations to the healthcare team in both oral and written form.It is critical that this communication is of high quality so that the healthcare delivered is able to meet the client’s needs. Therapists are required to be knowledgeable, articulate, and capable of valuable written and verbal expression (Craven ; Hirnle, 2003). Non-verbal communication is highly important when dealing with the client.
The occupational therapist must consider personal space, eye contact, body language and posture. The occupational therapist must take into consideration the culture of the client, and that culture’s acceptability of personal space and touch.Different cultures prefer different degrees of closeness in personal space (Balzer-Riley, 2004).
It is important in some cultures to hold direct eye contact, yet some cultures find direct eye contact rude and intrusive (Balzer-Riley, 2004). Body language and posture are key ways for an occupational therapist to display warmth to a client. A client will feel comfortable and this will lead to a more open and full relationship (Balzer-Riley, 2004). It is important that this sort of relationship is established in rehabilitation as the client is often under a considerable amount of stress and may find it hard to open up to another person.A shift of posture toward the client, a smile, direct eye contact and motionless hands are good ways to display warmth (Balzer-Riley, 2004).
Intra-personal qualities To achieve an effective relationship with a client, there are particular intra-personal skills that should be obtained. An occupational therapist must be respectful, trustworthy, empathetic, genuine, confident, and have good self-awareness. A health professional should continually reflect on his or her interactions with their client so that they can understand their strengths and weaknesses when providing care to the client (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2004).
Respect for the dignity and worth of the client is essential for the relationship to be successful (College of Nurses of Ontario, 2004). A health professional must have respect for a patient’s culture and beliefs. Receiving respect will make the client feel important, cared for, and worthwhile (Balzer-Riley, 2004). Respect has a positive effect on the way in which the client complies with the therapist and the rehabilitation and healthcare that they receive (Balzer-Riley, 2004).
The therapist-client relationship differs from a social relationship in a way that the needs of the client always comes first. The occupational therapist motivates others to cultivate inner motivational resources that allow them the greatest opportunity possible to develop, grow and regulate their own behaviour (Reeve, 1996). This means that the therapist is in a privileged position because of the trust the client give to the therapist in the course of rehabilitation. Empathy is understanding clearly the thoughts and feelings of another person (Mckay ; Fanning, 2000).Empathy involves listening carefully, asking questions, setting aside your value judgements and using your imagination to understand another’s point of view, opinions, feelings, motivations and situation. An occupational therapist should always show empathy toward the client as this will deepen the therapist-client relationship and increase the clients feeling of being connected to another person. The feeling of belonging helps to reduce the client’s negative feelings of loneliness and isolation (Balzer-Riley, 2004).
Empathy gives the client the needed confirmation that you understand their point of view and how they are feeling.There is nothing so accepting as having others verbally acknowledge that they understand our feelings (Balzer-Riley, 2004). For a therapist to be genuine, their true thoughts and feelings must be presented to the client or colleague (Balzer-Riley, 2004). The therapist must send the client the real picture of themselves, not a distorted one that differs from how they really think or feel (Balzer-Riley, 2004). Being genuine is risky as it involves the health professional expressing negative thoughts and confronting the client and colleagues with their reactions (Balzer-Riley, 2004).
Genuineness shows the therapist’s openness and tells the client or colleague that they are able to express their true thoughts and feelings (Balzer-Riley, 2004). Self-confidence can help a health practitioner to build relationships with clients and colleagues. The occupational therapist will better earn the respect and trust from the client if they show that they are confident and competent. Confidence will enable the therapist to take on an authoritative role and get suitable responses from the client or colleague that they are working with. A comfortable sense of self will aid in the building of self-confidence.When a health professional has a comfortable sense of self, evaluation of his or her strengths or weaknesses can be made (Craven & Hirnle, 2003) which will then enable the occupational therapist to become more competent. Specific communication skills Occupational therapists are required to be very adaptable in how they must approach and deal with a client, as every client will be different. An occupational therapist must distinguish if the way that they are dealing with a client is not working and how they can improve the communication between the client and themselves.
The six categories of intervention can be used when an occupational therapist is in certain situations that must be dealt with in a particular manner. Some situations call for a more dominant or assertive role whereas other situations call for the therapist to be less obtrusive and more discreet (AUT, 2005). Clients can at times become distressed, confused, defensive and hostile when undergoing certain health issues, so an occupational therapist must know what to do in times of need and which intervention to use.Prescriptive intervention is when an occupational therapist is required to give advice, whether it is judgemental, critical or evaluative (AUT, 2005). Informative intervention is used when the health practitioner needs to instruct or inform the client new knowledge or information (AUT, 2005).
Confronting intervention is used when the health practitioner directly challenges the restrictive attitude, beliefs or behaviour of the client (AUT, 2005). Cathartic intervention is used when the therapist facilitates the client to release painful emotions that they may be withholding, such as anger, grief, fear and embarrassment (AUT, 2005).Catalytic intervention is when the health practitioner seeks to enable the client to learn and develop by self-direction and self-discovery (AUT, 2005). Supportive intervention is when the health practitioner acknowledges the worth and value of the client. Being intimate, authentic and caring causes the client to feel more positive towards themselves (AUT, 2005).
New Zealand is increasingly becoming a multi-cultural nation. Therefore therapists are required to deal with clients who are of different cultures and overcome the language barrier that may occur for some clients may not speak or just partly speak English.Certain communication skills are needed to enable proper rehabilitation from the therapist. A health practitioner must speak clearly and distinctly using a normal tone of voice, hand motions, pictures, and demonstrations may also be used when appropriate (Craven & Hirnle, 2003).
Awareness in non-verbal communication is also critical. Therapists should be aware of eye contact, personal space, touching and cultural beliefs and practices (Craven & Hirnle, 2003). Therapists should also try to avoid using technical terms so that it is easier for the client to comprehend what the therapist means and understands its situation (Balzer-Riley, 2004).Some of the occupational therapy encounters were quite short, just having enough time to help the client learn to do some thing what is important to them.
Other occupational therapy could last for weeks, months or even years, as people’s changing abilities and needs could require redefinition of the goals of the continuing occupational therapy treatments (Labovitz, 2003). Whatever the case may be, it is important for the therapist to pay particular attention to communication.The client may be so ill that are unable to communicate and they will be fearful of the extent of their injury and the diagnosis (Craven ; Hirnle, 2003). The therapist must talk to the client about what they are doing, even if in cases where the client cannot communicate back just as they would with any other client (Craven ; Hirnle, 2003).
Explanations must be clear, direct and simply stated. The qualities that I possess and what need developing I feel that I possess the qualities of empathy. I seem to be able to empathise with different types of people, which will be beneficial to my role as an occupational therapist.I consider myself to be an active listener and would never appear as though I was not listening, as I know how upsetting it is to recognize that you are not being listened to. I consider myself quite good in picking up nonverbal clues from the person I am talking to, and notice how they are responding to me. I am also aware of my body language and what it is conveying to the person I am talking to.
I have always shown respect to other people, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or culture, which I think is one of my strengths.Talking about feelings is difficult for some people. This may be connected to their culture, gender or age (Josephine ; Thoreau, 2002). I feel that I need to improve on my cross-cultural communication skills as I have had a limited exposure to people from different cultures and from people who do not speak English fluently. To develop these skills I would need to associate more with people from other cultures so that I am able to train and improve myself with these skills and become proficient in my cross-cultural communication skills.I will also need to research the values and customs of different cultures so that I am less likely to offend my client by performing an act that may not be acceptable to them. I used to consider myself to be very confident.
But when I migrated to New Zealand, my self-confidence levels was not as elevated as it used to be. This could be because of the different culture and lifestyle that I am learning to adapt which is different from what I was accustomed to. This low self confidence needs to be improved and I should be more assertive towards people.
This is an essential skill necessary to obtain a patient’s respect and trust. To develop this quality, I will need to exert more effort to socialize, do group activity that would require teamwork, which would make me relate to different sorts of people. These experiences would make me gain back my self confidence and will improve my communication skills that is essential to become an efficient occupational therapist.
Conclusion This assignment has been very interesting and it has given me the opportunity to consider what communication, interpersonal, and intrapersonal skills are required for in the health profession.It has identified how important it is to maintain quality and excellent health services to clients through effective communication. As the client is in a vulnerable and sensitive position it is important that the occupational therapist can make the client feel comfortable and confident with the healthcare that they are being delivered. It has also been a great insight into what skills I may need to develop to become an efficient and competent occupational therapist.
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