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close this bookEducation for Health (WHO, 1988, 274 p.)
close this folderChapter 4: Health education with individuals
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentThe purpose of counselling
View the documentRules for counselling
View the documentDifferent types of counselling
View the documentFacilitating decisions and follow-through
View the documentA sample counselling session
View the documentMore practice in counselling

More practice in counselling

Like any skill, counselling improves with practice. Gather some other health or community workers and do a role-play. One of you will be a counsellor. The other will be a mother whose child has an infected ear. The remaining people will be the audience. They have an important job: they should watch the role-play carefully and at the end they can give the players suggestions for improving their counselling skills.

Suggestions for the person who plays the role of the mother

You should behave just like a normal mother in your community. What might a mother believe is the cause of the illness? What local treatments might she have been using before coming to the clinic? The counsellor may be interested in the mother's family, living conditions, and occupation. Make up a story about yourself, so you can give realistic answers to the counsellor. You have watched mothers come to the clinic many times. Sometimes they are worried and afraid. Behave just like the mothers you have seen. That will make the role-play better.

Suggestions for the counsellor

Remember the simple counselling steps. Think of what educational tools you can use. Can you demonstrate a skill that needs to be learned by the mother? Could you use posters or pictures? You may not have these with you, but in a role-play you can pretend that you have them. Can you make up a story, proverb, or fable? Will you need to help the mother get support from family members?

Do not rush the counselling

It is natural for the session to go slowly at first. After you have had a lot of practice and real sessions, your skills will increase. You will be able to understand problems more quickly and select educational methods more easily.

For further practice, use the case of the mother with twins (see page 90) as the basis for a role-play. People could take the roles of health worker, mother, brother-in-law, and possibly other relatives. Also you should make up your own role-plays based on actual problem situations you have seen in the clinic, school, and community. Always have a few other people watch the plays so that they can suggest improvements.

Whatever the situation may be, remember that counselling implies the following four steps:

1. Helping the client identify what is the problem.
2. Helping the client discover why it is a problem.
3. Encouraging the client to look at many possible solutions to the problem.
4. Having the client choose the most appropriate solution.