Background (109-028-14-1) Vered and Anat
The patient’s mother, Sigalit has just angrily told the family doctor that she and her daughter spent last night in the hospital where they diagnosed pneumonia and an ear infection in the child that , according to he, the family, doctor had missed earlier that day, while accusing her of not caring enough.
The doctor inquires after the child’s situation now, a question that triggers a second tirade during which the doctor employs reflection:” I understand…you are angry at me”. Again Sigalit responds angrily that she is even considering lodging a complaint against the doctor. The doctor’s offering that “I really understand. It is very stressful to see your daughter in such a state” also falls flat.
In this clip the doctor is making a genuine effort to convey her understanding and her sympathy but fails to connect personally or professionally with the child’s mother. Why does she fail? This question can be discussed from a number of angles:
- The doctor’s body language and non-verbal communication ( eg her tone of voice, etc.)
- The difference between “reflection” [for example’ I can see that you are very angry] and “interpretation” [“ I understand .. you are angry at me over what happened”] or as she says a little later “it is very stressful to see your daughter in such a state”. What is it about an interpretation that creates distance rather than closeness in this case?
- What priorities might the doctor set for the remainder of the interview and what could be the doctor’s next response? . for what purpose?