A tutorial software for the development of relational skills
The tutorial software provides help to improve clinicians’ communication skills by acquiring easily applicable knowledge about therapeutic relationships. The authors have developed their new teaching tool, the Integrative therapeutic relational training method based on their several years of experience in clinical psychology, psychotherapy and in teaching medical and psychology students. The software contains exercises developed by the authors, using adaptations of internationally acknowledged techniques for the analysis of the patient-clinician relationship.
The software can be used in the education of psychology and medical students as well as in the communication training of other healthcare professionals. It may also serve as a training technique for higher/further specialist education. The interested lay audience can also apply it to become more conscious and more active participants of patient-clinician interactions. The software may be used individually or in group training sessions.
The Experiencing the Therapeutic Relationship tutorial software helps users understand the impact of both verbal and nonverbal communication on therapeutic relationships, as well as analyse one’s own experiences of professional interactions. Through the process of becoming aware of the nuances of professional communication one can improve their interpersonal skills.
Structure of the software
The tutorial software is based on video scenes of therapist-patient interactions written by the authors. Scenes 1, 2, 5 and 6 present psychologist-patient sessions, while scenes 3, 4, 7 and 8 show doctor-patient consultations. The eight scenes form 4 sets of pairs: 1-2, 3-4, 5-6 and 7-8. In the joint scenes one can see the same situation with the same characters but with differences in the nonverbal and slightly in the verbal communication of the therapist. During the scenes one can follow the effect of the different therapist behaviours and its impact on the interaction.
Interaction analysis systems applied in the software
The software offers various ways to analyze the scenes.
Firstly, it encourages the viewer to identify with the participants and by offering specific observational criteria it shifts their attention on the subjective experience.
Secondly, the software offers a more objective and structured analysis of the scenes based on the Roter Interaction Analysis System The scenes are coded according to the RIAS and can be viewed with or without the codes.
Lastly, the software contains tools to analyze the clinicians’ behaviour in terms of its efficiency facilitating further interactions. The user of the software can learn to identify behaviours supporting or inhibiting interactions.
Further exercises developed by the authors
- Behind words: This section contains three silent extracts from each pair of scenes. By watching the scenes the viewer is encouraged to focus on the nonverbal differences of the seemingly similar situations.
- How would I react? In this exercise the viewer is asked to identify with one of the participants and continue the interaction in a dense moment. (6 extracts)
- Continuing the scene: After watching an interaction between clinician and patient the viewer has to form an opinion about the potential outcome of the interaction. (6 extracts)
- Silent film: In this part the viewer has to figure out what happens in the scene just based on the nonverbal communication. (6 extracts)
- Talking heads: The viewer is asked to attribute an emotional state and thoughts to facial expressions from the scenes.
- Tensions in interaction: The viewer has to find moments in the scenes where there is tension between the participants and make recommendations for more supportive communication.
About the authors
Márta Csabai, PhD, Clinical and Health Psychologist. Senior researcher at the Institute for Psychology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences; Associate Professor and Head at the Clinical and Health Psychology Divison of the Institute of Psychology, University of Szeged, Hungary.
Ilona Csörsz, Clinical Psychologist and Lecturer at the Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Debrecen, Hungary.
Katalin Szili, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, trainee psychotherapist in private practice. Researcher at the Institute for Psychology at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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