Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Communication Techniques and Therapeutic Listening Exercise

Lately I've had some friends tell me that they want exercise in nuanced listening, or emotional reading. Some friends have also expressed that they are struggling with a relationship, particularly with communication. 
It all starts from listening and really tuning in.

This is something I learned from the psych class I took Spring semester 2014.
I don't want to forget this skill of therapeutic listening and communication techniques because it improved my relationships with everyone at the time when I was consciously practicing the skill. I still need to practice. So, to help me recall what I've learned, I'm going to summarize it and share it with you today.
It's a useful technique to practice with family members and strangers alike, helps to resolve communication problems, improve relationships, and grow as a human being--listen deeply to what isn't stated.

Accepting EX: "It makes sense you feel that way" "That's understandable
Translate words into feelings EX: I'm way out in the ocean -->"You seem to feel lonely"
Encourage expressions of feelings EX: What are your feelings about that?"
Making Observations EX: "You sound angry" "You seem tense"
Validating perceptions EX: "This is what I heard you say...Is that right?
Verbalize the implied EX: Are you feeling no one understands?
Silence (With Empathy)
Active Listening (Be aware of your posture/nonverbal cues)
Brief Disclosure followed by return to client's issues
Broad Openings EX: What would you like to talk about today?
Clarifying EX: I'm not sure I understand...Help me to understand?
Encourage Comparison EX: Have you had similar experience before?
Focusing EX: Let's foucs on your feelings rather than your husbands"
Forming a plan of action EX: How might you handle it differently in the future?
Offering self EX: I'm interested in what you think.
Open ended questions EX: Tell me about your family
Paraphrasing EX: So far we've discussed...
Reflecting EX: I think I should tell her BETTER: Do you think you should tell her?
Voicing Doubt EX: "I'm not sure that's possible. From my experience..."

Agreeing/Disagreeing EX: You made the right decision.Better: "How do you feel about it?
All knowing EX: I understand how you feel Better: It makes sense you feel that way.
Belittling Expressed feelings EX: Everybody gets down in the dump sometimes BETTER: You seem upset. Tell me.."
Challenging EX: You didn't mean to say that! BETTER: You must have been upset to say that!
Changing the topic EX: I don't have anything to live for-->STAY with the feeling/explore
Close ended questions
Defending EX: Nobody would lie to you. BETTER: Let's clarify
Giving advice EX: "I think you should" BETTER: What do you think you could do?
Giving approval/disapproval
Imposing personal values
Inappropriate self disclosure EX: When someone tells you their story, you tell them a worse personal story. BETTER: No disclosure, translate words into feelings
Leading question EX: Do you drink because you're depressed BETTER: Tell me what you're feeling when you need a drink
Parroting EX: Frequently repeating what someone is saying to a point of annoyance
Patronizing EX: Come on honey, eat this. This is yummy food. BETTER: May I help you with your meal?
Probing EX: Tell me how you feel about your mother now that she's dead
Rejecting EX: I dont want to hear about that. BETTER: Let's look at it a little more closely
Requesting an explanation EX: Why did you do that? BETTER: Tell me about your feelings before that happened
Cliches/Stereotyped comments EX: Everything will be fine BETTER: This was really bad news
Using denial EX: Of course you're somebody. Everyone is! BETTER: You're feeling that no one cares?

STEP 3: RECORD THE CONVERSATION PROCESS-->Spend a few hours going through the conversation. Look at the conversation and analyze the verbal/non-verbal cues and give yourself points for when you use only Therapeutic Listening. Also analyze when and why you used nontherapeutic listening and Avoid it next time.

ADDITIONAL USEFUL STEPS: To begin to understand where someone else is in the continuum of human experiences, look over Erikson's psychosocial stages. Here's a handy dandy chart.
Finally, you're ready to start classifying disorders. Invest in DSM-V. You'll start diagnosing everyone. Literally, everyone!

Grim, T.(2014). N477--Psychiatric Mental Health Concepts for Broad Clinical Application. UNC-Chapel Hill.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

"No work, no boiled chicken"--kung walang tiyaga, walang nilaga

"Kung walang tiyaga, walang nilaga"--which literally translates to "No work, no boiled chicken". One of my friends from nursing school gave me that quote because he couldn't find any other quotes that conveyed "take it easy" "chill and relax".

I'm very grateful that the hard work of nursing school should end in one more year! :) This hard work should help to find me a job that would allow me to eat all the boiled chicken that I want.

I remember my dad's stories of hard times, when chicken was so difficult to come by. Kids would not be allowed in the dining room because guests would be served first. And the kids would stare wistfully at the chicken disappearing.

Nowadays, chicken is jammed packed full of antibiotics and hormones that I find the thought of chicken unappetizing...unless of course it's range-free, shredded into pieces, cooked with rice, ginger and green onions in a traditional Filipino dish called Arroz caldo, then I'll gulp down a bowl faster than you can say "chicken".

My point in this blog, and in the pictures below, is to encourage my kababayans in the Philippines to grow a vegetable garden. I still sing "Bahay Kubo" despite living away from the Philippines and hold true to the lyrics of that song, living in small cottage surrounded by assorted veggies.

Lately, I'm disappointed to find that my younger cousins are decorating their photos with flowers using an app, rather than be surrounded by flowers they grew from seed. I don't accept the excuse that "I'm too busy to plant".

I was so busy this past year with nursing school and a baby, that I thought it was impossible for me to have a garden. But somehow, one step at a time, little by little, I was able to put the seeds to the ground, weed here and there, transplanted the seedlings to the garden. Let the plants grow wild.

Today, I made a squash casserole for my family and I'm happy to say this is the squash I grew from seed. It's so beautiful to be greeted by green and yellow squash, and to eagerly anticipate the fruits from other plants I planted a few years ago--grapes, blackberries. To have my mom greeted by a blooming rose bush for mother's day because I planted one for her.

It's a beautiful feeling and I'd like to share it. Maybe it will inspire someone to get out there and plant something beautiful/useful today.

This is the yummy squash we ate today. Organic. Noah poked a hole in the squash in the middle because he really wanted the yellow one which he called "nana" or "banana"

This is the wild garden--squash, green beans, potatoes, tomatoes, green onions, peppers in the mix, unsorted. It will be a surprise what bears fruit this summer.

This is the young grapes. There's a lot of young bunches that I can't wait to taste.

This is the green beans crawling upwards. And behind the photo is the "bahay kubo"

This is a picture of the flowering blackberries that I'm looking forward to eating this summer.

This is the rose bush I planted for my mom, that bloomed on Mother's Day

Thursday, June 5, 2014

First Flight with a Toddler, Visiting San Francisco

The contents of this particular blog post is a couple of useful insights on traveling with a toddler, and the joys of San Francisco.
This past week, I went to San Francisco for a family event. Since this was to be our first flight together, I did some research and found out I had 2 options. Purchase a seat for my son, or have him on my lap (option available until he is 2 years old). I opted for the latter (lapseat) and purchased a ticket for someone (his dad ;)) to accompany me and help babysit my son throughout the whole journey instead. Travelling by myself would have been nightmarish.
In terms of packing, toys always take a bite out of my luggage space. So I called my sister ahead and asked for a couple of *used* (and washed) toys to greet us during our visit. I packed very lightly because I wanted to save room in our luggage for purchases, since I always like to purchase new wardrobe item/s during vacations.
In retrospect, I recommend checking in all carryon except the basic essentials (2 diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, snacks and minitoys) and bringing an umbrella stroller.
I also prepared my Ipad ahead of time for applications to play with during a long flight. I recommend I write words. My son learned the letter "C" and "Cat" during the flight.
I was tempted to put my son to sleep during the flight but followed the warning on Benadryl's box. So I took the non-pharmacologic route and purchased a vial of Motion Eaze--good stuff. This aromatic vial was so relaxing and useful. It even worked on the trip back when my son had stuffy nose. Additionally, it's like gum--easy to offer to a fellow passenger. I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a friendly seatmate.
I also had a couple of goodie bags--a bag full of never-before-seen small toys, and a bag of favorite snack treats.
All these preparation helped minimize the stress of travel. Thus, I can enjoy sharing photos of our wonderful journey :)

There are always wild flowers around the beaches

San Francisco is a big boating community. Boats and wildlife everywhere.

Parks and Recreation help teach kids about teamwork and history, at Hyde St. Pier

Spectacular views and surfers everywhere

My son, my little darling prince

Small and affordable, fishing boat tours around San Francisco--includes views under the Golden Gate Bridge