Promoting Open Communication During an Interview Part 5

The practitioner may exhibit symptoms of his own, be they ever so subtle or subconscious, that may interfere with the process of case taking and management. One may become too much emotionally engaged, too sympathetic with the client’s suffering, maybe because of one’s own similar experiences. Or one may focus too much on the worrisome allopathic diagnosis, maybe because of a forceful presentation by the client, in such a manner as to intimidate the practitioner.

The practitioner may have a need to be admired, respected, or liked, or may have insecurities, any of which can lead to a variety of subtle or obvious behavioral and communicational peculiarities. These, in turn, may not necessarily and in every case result in difficult communication. However, if they do, it is likely to be to the detriment of the client-practitioner relationship.

I know of one Chinese Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, who would walk me out to the parking lot, wait until I was in the car, and wave good-bye until I was out of sight at the end of the street. In the office he would come to the restroom with the client and wait in front of the door until the client came out again. All the while he would be talking and giving further explanations of his treatments. He is an excellent practitioner of his art and does good help for many people. His peculiar behavior, which may or may not be justified by cultural difference, unless further understood, carries the potential of causing discrepancies in the verbal and non-verbal communication between him and some clients.

It is well worth the time to examine our own issues, especially our own emotional issues, to realize how they can become an integral part of how we take and manage a case, how we run our office in general. Whether we are conscious of this interference or not, it is bound to be part of our work, just as it is part of our general life.

Creating an atmosphere for communication

There are a variety of factors that contribute to a smooth and efficient homeopathic consultation, and those that inhibit the flow of communication in the consultation room. One, as any good Homeopath knows, is described in a German saying that goes: “Talking is silver — silence is gold.” This is especially valid for any practitioner, who potentially will be listening to other people’s emotional suffering.

Aside from the factual information, which we offer to explain homeopathic principles and to support the client’s understanding of the therapeutic process of homeopathic practice, communication on the part of the homeopath is to a large extent a matter of choosing words and gestures that will create a calm and emotionally neutral and non-judgmental atmosphere in the consulting room. Any client certainly needs and deserves to be provided with understanding, compassion, respect and the safety of a non-threatening environment.

If there is to be a basis for good communication between client and homeopath, there are several factors to consider:

Politeness. Let the clients finish their sentences and thoughts before speaking oneself; make encouraging gestures like a little nod of the head or a short move of the hands, for the client to speak first, in case both start talking at the same time. Apart from being a basic rule of case taking, it also gives the client a sense of security that what he or she says is indeed of importance to the homeopath. It avoids any potential verbal power play. I have many times kept my mouth shut and not tried to stop what seemed to be a flow of unimportant thoughts of the client, and it was just then that the person said something of value to the case.