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Interaction between Dr. Drossman and the couple in a medical visit

Interaction between Dr. Drossman and the couple in a medical visit


Examine the interaction between Dr. Drossman and the couple, considering the concepts presented in “The Expression of Emotion Through Nonverbal Behavior in Medical Visits.” In relation to the article, discuss:

  1. A) The types of verbal and non-verbal communication observed in the video.
    Aspects of the communication that enhanced the positivity of the interaction.
    B)  Evaluate Dr. Drossman’s approach, noting effective strategies and potential areas for improvement.  Include your recommendations for Dr. Drossman          based on the readings in the module.

The document should be formatted with double spacing and using Times New Roman font, size 12 and about 2 pages long.

Remember to include in-text citations and a reference page.    Express the ideas in your own words rather than quoting the article.


1. Types of communication observed

During the observation of the medical visit, three types of communication were mainly observed. These types of communication are essential in the understanding of social interaction theories. The main types of communication observed in the medical visit were verbal, non-verbal, and paralalia communication. In the preview of the recorded visit, an observational research on non-verbal behaviors is, in fact, a focus on gaze direction, smile frequency, and gesture frequency of the social interaction. It was when a further understanding of the body language of each one in the visit was realized that body language communication became a very important aspect in social interaction. According to the module book, in social interaction, meaning is created through the process of which an individual participant in a social interaction tries to convey to the others. This refers not just to the ability to be able to communicate with the people around us, but also in helping to produce an essential emotional state and in the case of these close couples, they could work as a channel for the lever of emotional intimacy. The understanding of the non-verbal communication on social interaction is very much practical for our day to day engagement with the other members in the society. As we learn to read our own body language and the body language of the others around us, we will have an advantage of the opportunity to learn more about our emotional parts and govern it. It is because we are then able to understand our own nonverbal signs and signals once we are aware which can help for a better understanding of the emotional needs and the others as well. However, little is known about teaching them how to be aware of non-verbal communication and to use it effectively throughout the pupils, and it is a growing phase of the research.

1.1 Verbal communication

Both Dr. Drossman and the couple demonstrate an effective use of verbal communication. The conversation is patient-focused and Dr. Drossman uses open-ended questions and supportive responses to encourage the couple to talk about why they have come to the clinic. For example, as the couple is settling down, Dr. Drossman introduces the reason for his visit as “routine check-up for high blood pressure and cholesterol” and asks “Do you have a feeling for why you are feeling high blood pressure and high cholesterol?” in order to direct both husband and wife to open their feelings and thoughts at a time and share with him. He uses phrases like “Yes, I understand how you feel” and “I’m glad you came over to see me” to provide reassurance and show respect for their feelings throughout the conversation, giving the couple a sense that they are taking control over the situation. Moreover, both incoming and outgoing messages are delivered effectively. For example, Dr. Drossman repeats what the wife has said by saying “So, lots of time to chat with each other” and he anticipates the patient’s needs by saying “Please don’t hesitate to ask me or tell me what’s going on anytime”. This kind of positive language is crucial to maintaining therapeutic alliance as it is considered important to provide such influential factors to maintain the effectiveness of therapeutic relation empowered in medical consultation. Also, laughter in the communication is encouraging a good doctor-patient relation. Dr. Drossman shares his opinion using partnered laughter, teases, and jokes with the couple during the communication. It helps to reduce the patient’s tension over the illness and build up a closer relation. Laughter is viewed as a powerful communication that strengthens relational ties and reduces stress, which is beneficial to the psychological well-being, health behavior, and real health outcomes. His use of technical terms during query and explanation is well understood by the couple and there is no sign showing that they are confused or need further explanation on any term used. He uses easy and understandable language, sometimes repeating key points several times. All these give a green light showing that the couple has received the information successfully. He tends to speak slowly and softly while talking to the couple in the whole session. Culturally, people in the Western world believe that speaking softly and slower in communication reflects empathy and emotional support to the listener. By adapting to these unwritten norms, it helps to maintain the effectiveness of his patient-oriented treatment. In overall, Dr. Drossman is using language appraisal which is positive and respectful language that shows an appreciation of the value of others. He shows respect and accepts the couple’s feelings without any judgmental words mentioned. This kind of statement is linguistic which affirms the positive worth of someone. It serves to provide the hearer with a sense of worth and approval and also Dr. Drossman is able to establish positive and therapeutic rapport. Well-timed verbal tracking like answering patient’s needs, encouraging, anticipation, and emotional expression is observed in the whole session. For example, Dr. Drossman asks the wife to take a deep breath. In the end of the session, he says “Please don’t hesitate to ask me or tell me what’s going on”. This is essentially used to gain and maintain control in empowering the couple to open up themselves and share their feelings so that the couple can understand in detail. All the strategies work well in targeting and promoting the hot affective therapeutic relation.

1.2 Non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication includes “all those messages that people exchange beyond the words in the communication process” (Golish, 2008). Non-verbal communication can sometimes be quite powerful. Instead of someone making a statement, clenching the teeth, tight lips, and frowning at the same time strongly indicates anger or frustration. The “verbal meaning” of the statement might be that “I am not angry” but the person is giving “non-verbal cues” of anger (Rodriguez, 2005). The couple displayed negative non-verbal communication throughout the interaction as they maintained a considerable amount of personal distance, avoided eye contact with each other and also with the physician and maintained negative facial expressions. According to Giles (2013), the physical distance between people can give a great deal of information about how they are feeling and may signal their relationship with each other. In many parts of the world, people do not stand in remaining intimate distance without a close relationship. However, in some parts of each global region, the appropriate amount of personal distance can vary. Most Americans feel most comfortable using four to twelve inches for their most intimate relationships. Usually, respect is shown for people to whom they are communicating, the personal distance they maintain when they communicate and non-verbal communication is respectful and also to some extent indicating a close relationship. Maintaining that personal distance more than that can actually break that close relationship and forms negative message (Giles, 2013). In this particular visit, the couple probably maintained the most separation that one could maintain within the private clinics. By using this kind of body language, both of the couple pronounced the unwillingness of following the request and instructions of Dr. Drossman. Dr. Drossman, as a professional doctor, was able to identify such kind of symbolic meanings behind the body expressions and then he was indicating this by telling the couple that “we need to solve your problem by coming for today’s problem first”. Considering the level of demonstration of negative non-verbal cues, the physician intentionally provided solutions to their problem in a calming and step by step manner, in order to ask for a better understanding of their real problems and hence providing sufficient instructions to the couple. It also can be seen that the couple never touch each other throughout the whole conversation. This is quite unusual because most couples even just holding a hand will be good enough to show their intimacy and loyalty in each other. This reflects unresolved difficulties in the relationship and perhaps there are “unconscious or hidden agendas or conflicts” between the couple (Giles, 2013). Both of the couple might feel uncomfortable to touch each other or fighting for their own lovers’ place in heart. Dr. Drossman also showed many positive non-verbal communication strategies during the consultation, like using “facial expressions, maintaining eye contact and touch” to show his understanding and caring nature to the couple (Golish, 2008). These positive non-verbal cues have helped the couple to feel respected, understood and feeling authorized. Consequently, as Dr. Drossman “critically interpreted” the positive non-verbal communications demonstrated by him, he can continue on to provide a road map for the best route to diagnose the couple.

2. Aspects enhancing the positivity of the interaction

2.1 Positive verbal communication

2.2 Positive non-verbal communication

3. Evaluation of Dr. Drossman’s approach

3.1 Effective strategies

3.2 Areas for improvement

4. Recommendations for Dr. Drossman

4.1 Recommendations based on module readings

5. Formatting of the document

5.1 Double spacing

5.2 Times New Roman font, size 12

5.3 Length of the document (about 2 pages)

6. In-text citations and reference page

6.1 Importance of in-text citations

6.2 Format of the reference page

7. Expressing ideas in one’s own words

7.1 Avoiding direct quotations

8. Conclusion


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