Effective youth AOD services adopt a client centred approach. This means that practitioners adopt a communication style that works best for the client. How a youth AOD practitioner communicates can influence how open and honest a client is in sharing their experiences and working towards solutions.
Elements drawn from motivational interviewing (MI), narrative therapy (NT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) can all inform the communication style adopted.
It is also important to be intentional about non-verbal communication and to consider the messages that particular practices and actions send to young people and families (see aspect 4). For example, taking care to ensure that practice environments are clean and welcoming can send a message to clients that they are worth investing in.
A2. Person-centred guiding and active listening
Person-centred guiding and active listening is the preferred way of communicating in motivational interviewing which uses four key communication skills: Open questions; Affirming statements, Reflections; and Summaries (OARS). It is a style that can assist young people to tell their story while enabling the practitioner to demonstrate understanding and work at their pace.
E1. Attentive listening
Attentive listening is the foundation stone of Narrative Therapy. The aim is to understand the client’s own way of talking about their problems and experiences rather than trying to fit these experiences into preconceived categories. Engaging is promoted as the practitioner is required to visibly demonstrate a genuine interest in what the young person is saying. Responses to what is being said should be limited to requests for clarification or elaboration.
G1ii. Reciprocal communication Style
Reciprocal communication is an acceptance-based strategy primarily aimed at promoting engagement in the therapeutic relationship. Responsiveness, self-disclosure and genuineness are the basic features of reciprocal communication style.