Intentional Interviewing and Counseling: Facilitating Client Development in a Multicultural Society by Allen E. Ivey & Mary Bradford Ivey (Brooks/Cole: Pacific Grove, CA: 2003).
“Natural style is defined in this book as your spontaneous way of working with others to help them achieve their goals…your natural style may not ‘work’ with everyone; you may need to shift your style to be fully effective. The effective interviewer gradually develops a blend of natural style and learned competencies…focus on your own abilities as a foundation for your growth and further development” (Ivey & Ivey, p. 3).
What are the strengths of your natural style? (The following is from pp. 3-4 of Ivey and Ivey. Write down your responses to these questions.)
A good place to start in interviewing and counseling is with self-awareness---seeing yourself as a person of capability. List below specifics in which you are a person of competence. This is your foundation for growth.
When have you helped someone else? Be as specific as possible.
What, specifically, did you do that was helpful?
Be honest---what strengths do you think you bring to a course of study in helping and interviewing skills? (Saying good things about yourself is not always easy, but do it!)
Ask a friend or family member to identify your natural qualities and skills that might make you an effective helper. Record what they say.
What strengths and knowledge have you gained from experience with people who may be different from you? What experience and knowledge of cultures different from your own can you bring to the interview?
Once strengths are identified, it is easier to face up to our personal challenges and limitations. Your base of positive qualities, skills, knowledge, and experience will enable you to develop further as an interviewer or counselor. The ability to identify goals is itself a positive asset. What goals might you have as you build your expertise in interviewing and counseling skills?
“Self-understanding and emotional intelligence are essential to developing your interviewing competence and to enhancing your natural style” (Ivey & Ivey, p. 4). You will find more on emotional intelligence and self-understanding by visiting the readings attached to the syllabus for Dr. Frost’s course entitled “How to live a wonderful life!” (http://www.mtsu.edu/~cfrost).
“I’m overwhelmed. My husband was let go in the latest downsizing and is impossible to live with. My job is going OK, but I worry about making the next car payment. Our ancient washer broke, flooded our basement, and ruined a box of family photographs. Our daughter came home crying because the kids are teasing her and my mother is coming to visit next week. What should I do?” (Ivey and Ivey, pp. 19-20).
Write down your response to this. You might want to consider videotaping a friend making a comparable statement and then videotape your response. If not, then write your response down. Keep in mind that numerous positive and helpful responses exist. No one right response exists. Also, you can learn a great deal by deliberately writing down some examples of what would be the wrong response. You can videotape the wrong response also as it can be an effective learning experience. “One of the best ways to understand quality listening is to experience the opposite: poor listening” (Ivey and Ivey, p. 36).
“Although all counseling skills are concerned with facilitating change, it is the confrontation of discrepancies that acts as a lever for the activation of human potential” (Ivey and Ivey, p. 223).
“Confrontation is not a direct, harsh challenge. Think of it, rather, as a more gentle skill that involves listening to the client carefully and respectfully and then seeking to help the client examine self or situation more fully. Confrontation is not ‘going against’ the client; it is ‘going with’ the client; seeking clarification and the possibility of a new resolution of difficulties. Think of confrontation as a supportive challenge” (Ivey & Ivey, p. 225).
Describe a problem that a client might bring to you, one that requires confrontation. Write it down, or role play it and videotape it. Then write down your specific words that you would use in confronting the client. If you can, role play and videotape your confrontational response.
Sometimes interviewers use directive strategies. The following are some examples from Ivey and Ivey (pp. 330-333). Select at least one of these strategies and give an example of how you would use it. Provide a client problem, then your response using one of the strategies. If you can, role play this example and videotape both the client stating the problem and your use of the strategy.
“Imagine you are back in the situation. Close your eyes and describe it precisely. What are you seeing, hearing, feeling?”
“What is your image of your ideal day/job/life partner.”
“You seem a bit vague about the time you gave in to your parents. Close your eyes, visualize your parents…(pause)…now what are they saying to you? What are you saying to them? How do you feel in this process?”
“Talk to your parent as if he or she were sitting in that chair. Now go to that chair and answer as your parent would.”
“Identify a negative experience, thought, or feeling. Now identify something positive in that experience and focus on that dimension. Synthesize the two.”
“We all have internal speech in which we silently talk to ourselves. Sometimes that internal ‘self-talk’ becomes a negative judgmental voice. I’d like to explore some of your negative thinking and self-talk. Then I want to teach you how to stop by placing a rubber band on your wrist. Every time you say something negative to yourself, snap the rubber band and say ‘STOP!’”
“Practice this exercise next week and report on it in the next interview.”