Created on 8 December 2021

Behind Someone’s Silence

What methods can assist support workers when our conversations result in silence? I always ask the questions: what hobbies do you have? What things interest you? These prompts always seem to ignite a more fulfilling and productive response from my participants.

Connecting with participants

I think that when we can find an opening this gives us an insight to how we are able to connect with people. It provides us with a snapshot into their journey, essentially a metaphorical window that we can look through. This way we cannot only find a starting point but we can also find a finishing point. We will get to know what kind of person we are trying to help; this assists in linking work ideas and ‘hobbies’ in order to improve mental health and create a platform for more active cognitive engagement.

Working with that connection

When I asked someone these very questions, the reply was ‘I don’t have any hobbies.’ Despite the initial reluctance, this then led on to him expressing a great desire for reading books, especially history. We then discussed how reading could help with mental health by keeping one focused and placed an individual in a different world – a world away from the day-to-day anxieties that have likely been contributing to depressive symptoms such as low mood and becoming overwhelmed with procrastinating behaviours.

An example of this interest-based engagement is LEGO therapy, which is a well-known technique for helping with anxiety. It’s already been identified in psychological research as being an efficient therapeutic process. However, the opportunity to implement these methods are not always noticed and the ability to implement this highly successful technique is missed.

I had a conversation with a participant about their love of watching Star Wars films and explained that LEGO have a range of Star Wars sets that may be of interest to them. l asked whether my participant had considered purchasing any of these. During our next conversation this same participant was talking about a particular set that he had purchased and constructed; he told me how this had been very therapeutic and ‘helped on a bad day’.

Perhaps, if we look at what is going on in the outside, this quite often is an indication of what is going on in the inside. So, next time you are ‘stuck’, ask the question ‘what hobbies do you have’!


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