Chapter 04

Chapter Four Objectives: Communication Skills Needed for Clinical Practice

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Knowledge (Declarative Knowledge)

By the end of the chapter you should possess declarative knowledge about:
  1. The distinction between a professional clinical interview and a conversation
  2. How to assess verbal and non-verbal behavior in the clinical interview
  3. How an interview: (1)to establish rapport, (2) to gather information needed for    assessment and (3) to enact a therapeutic process
  4. How language is foremost a product of culture
  5. The dynamics of encoding, decoding and processing
  6. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
  7. The construct, "mental lexicon"
  8. The difference between culturally sensitive practice and culturally responsive practice
  9. The written formats used for communication in clinical practice: client records, intake information, progress notes, transfer or closing summaries, reimbursement justifications, affidavits, expert testimony, process recordings
  11. The oral formats used for communication in clinical practice: the case conference, the team meeting, the client session, and the supervisory session.

Skills (Application of Knowledge- Procedural and Tacit Knowing)  

By the end of this chapter you should demonstrate beginning competency in the use of communication skills needed for clinical social work practice and the art of healing by being able to:
  1. Exercise basic interviewing techniques
  2. Use ethnographic interviewing skills
  3. Use translators when conducting an interview with a client whose first language is     other than English
  4. Exercise strength-based interviewing techniques.
  5. Modify interviewing techniques when the client is a child, adolescent or elder.
  6. Modify interviewing techniques for clients whose verbal expression is compromised    by physical or mental illness i.e.  less verbal clients
  7. Apply  theory-specific guided inquiries as warranted by the facts of the case and the    workers knowledge of the theory
  8. Acknowledge and work with worker-client differences in the helping relationship
  9. Write process recordings for purposes of skill improvement under supervision; novice to master clinician


  1. Value cultural differences and their impact on the helping relationship
  2. Respect client strengths
  3. Avoid construing difference as pathology (cultural bias)
  4. Respect theory and method choices as opportunities for best practices.
  5. Appreciate the fact that those who share a similar language, race, ethnicity, etc often    develop different realities.
  6. Respect the fact that the communication skills needed for clinical practice differ from    the communication skills needed for policy, advocacy, management and community    practice.
  7. Appreciate the unique context of face-to-face contact in direct clinical practice.
  8. Appreciate communication as the healing medium in models of talk therapy.

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