B760 Mental Health Nursing


Summarise the main Learning 

This week we will focus on the use of questioning and the different uses of questions when engaging with a person. 

Appropriate questioning represents a skill that:

  • encourages clients to further explore their specific issues and
  • results in an effective assessment of the person’s issue.

Questions can be either closed or open and are used at different times and for different reasons during communication. Closed questions are used to gain information and are usually responded to in short succinct responses. Open questions, when used effectively, usually result in a freer and more open exchange between client and counselor. However, both types of questioning are contained within the counselor’s frame of reference and represent the beginning of counselor intervention. Questions therefore are useful to gain information. 

However, how questions are asked is crucial for the development of client/counselor trust and respect. Questions that are asked in an interrogating fashion often result in fear, confusion and a non-sharing of information. Similarly, the counselor needs to understand the client’s cultural background as questioning is not always appropriate for certain cultural or ethnic groups.

At the completion of this week, you will be able to:

  • explain the importance of questioning in a therapeutic relationship
  • identify and differentiate between different types of questions
  • describe the value of goal setting
  • examine the implications for practice when utilising questioning skills
  • explain the key issues of a first interview.

Reflect on the following questions:

  • When have you used closed questions and how were they appropriate to the situation?
  • When are open-ended questions appropriate? Reflect on a situation or context where you have used open questions resulting in the person sharing significant information with you? What happened as a result?
  • Do you have a broad repertoire of open-ended questions?

Research the following:

  • The potential problem of using ‘why’ questions when working with people in mental health.
  • The use of circular questioning. What is circular questioning? What types of questions would be used and what is their purpose? 
  • The use of the ‘miracle question’ 
  • The strengths and limitations of using the ‘what else?’ question, often used in solution focused therapy.
  • Any other type of questions (other than the ones in the reading or mentioned above) that can be used in a therapeutic relationship. 
  • What type of questions will be useful in a relationship orientated first interview?
  • How would this be different to an information orientated first interview?
  • What is the purpose of defining goals in counseling? What do you think are the pitfalls in goal setting?

Identify the type of question from the list below and discuss the reasons it may not be helpful. 

  • Attacking 
  • Suggestive
  • Judgmental 
  • Leading 
  • Assumptive

As mental health services evolve, it is important both the person experiencing a mental illness (consumer) and carers have a voice in the recovery.

Listening and engaging with an individual compared to engaging with a family requires different skills.

  • List the possible challenges of working with an individual and a family.
  • List the possible strengths of working with an individual and a family.
  • Discuss the types of questions/ questioning style that can be used in both situations.
  • What do you think the phrase ‘being respectfully curious’ implies when working within a therapeutic relationship?
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