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Coordinating meaning

Video Type: In Practice

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Summary

Lynn is a 59 year old woman who decided to seek counseling to work through a longstanding concern about what she describes as a lack of courage in relation to various challenges, especially physical challenges. Lynn describes an incident snow-shoeing with friends when she reached an impasse: they wanted to proceed over a dangerous icy slope and she became overwhelmed with anxiety and needed help getting down from the mountain. She jokingly refers to a “cowardly gene” to capture the sense that the anxiety that overwhelms her in these situations is an expression of her fundamental nature. At the same time she is curious to challenge this notion and wants to change the way she responds in similar situations. Lynn has said she wants to address a long-standing fear that she says has hampered her in taking-on physical challenges. In this exchange, she provides the example of an incident that illustrates the issue. David is primarily concerned with making sure he “gets it”–in other words, coordinating meanings with Lynn. Watch the exchange carefully and identify concrete examples of: 1. Re-stating 2. Paraphrasing 3. Confirming the counselor's understanding (verbally and nonverbally). 4. Recapping Can you identify further questions from David that contribute to clarifying Lynn's experience? What aspects of the counselor's practice might you have done similarly/differently? Lynn preceded this concrete description with some general comments about the concern that she seems to have of a “cowardly gene”—the sense that there is something fundamental to her nature in the fear she describes. She then proceeds with the exchange here, providing an example of the situation where the fear comes up. It's important that David gains a clear understanding of her concern if he is going to be helpful to her. He alternates careful listening with giving back the description to Lynn using a combination of her language and his own. Notice how he maintains a tentative tone, constantly inviting Lynn to make adjustments to his descriptions. This is most explicit when he checks on the appropriateness of a word he pitched into the conversation, “catastrophic.” Lynn indicates that this does not quite fit for her. By the end of this brief exchange, David has a more vivid picture of the issue that Lynn hopes to work on.

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