With reference to animation 1:
The first meeting and the first encounter with the family is highly important. All the participants are evaluating if they can trust each other in the meeting and the family is also evaluating the professional. Some of the questions which they might be considering are:
Many of these questions will be unspoken, especially if this is the first contact with the mental health services. The family might have a poor impression of the help received in previous contacts with health care professionals and they may make assumptions or have hesitations about mental health issues and mental health care in general. The family could also be very tired with the situation and they may have sought help from several other places before approaching the mental health services.
Often people with mental health problems, their families and also mental health services, are stigmatized. These services are thought of as the last resort for help. So during the first encounter, the professional represent many things to the family. Therefore it is important to make sure that you have time, you are able to concentrate, you listen actively and are able to manage different emotions of your own in order to provide support and information to the family.
It is often a good idea to work with a colleague, but this is not always possible. However, working alone should not prevent you from working with families. From a professional viewpoint, the first encounter with a family tends to involve information sharing as well as being the first step in developing a relationship with them. In addition, the first meeting seeks to establish co-operation with all family members.
From an interaction viewpoint, you should also be aware of your speech content, your facial impressions, gestures and ways of speaking. The animations give a limited variety of these, but in the literature you can find more information to enhance your own skills. You also can and should seek feedback from the family after you have worked with them for sometime and there is a safe and trustful atmosphere in your meetings which enables different kinds of "voices" as described in Open dialogue.
You can learn about different types of families at the following links:
These are things that will help you remember and use to support your understandings when working with the family.
In the following TEDtalk Tamara Taggart discusses the importance of communication and the words that we use.
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