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Extra resources for Applied Psychology for Social Work (Transforming Social Work Practice)
It can be argued that the perception of such congruence is likely to be enhanced whenever NVC is used effectively. 3 In the earlier research activity you were asked to observe NVC both in yourself and in other people. This activity requires you to think about the importance of being sensitive to other people’s NVC. In completing the activity think about how you feel if other people are insensitive to your NVC. Make a note of situations when you feel that NVC has either been unnoticed or misinterpreted by yourself, a colleague or a service user.
Generally speaking it can be argued that the service user is likely to have a heightened sensitivity to NVC, as this is how they will obtain the additional information that they are reluctant to ask about or that they feel the social worker may be intentionally keeping from them. If service users do have particular needs such as mental health needs, it may also mean that the interpretation of NVC is not accurate and that the interpretation that is given to particular expressions of NVC reinforces negative professional working relationships.
Likewise standing too close to a service user or keeping too remote a distance can adversely affect the professional relationship. Either appearing to be too relaxed or too formal are both extreme messages that harm the communication of a social worker and his or her service user. It is also important to have appropriate eye contact. In other words, a social worker should neither ‘stare’ at a service user nor avoid all eye contact. Both forms of non-verbal communication are likely to be interpreted negatively.