AIM: To understand the function of normalising statements.
INTRODUCTION: People may sometimes have difficulty in volunteering some information about their problem, particularly if they are anxious or embarrassed about it. One way of reassuring a patient is to use statements that ‘normalise’ their problem, that they are not the only person to have the experience. This can be done by making a general, or normalising, statement about the issue to take the focus off the patient momentarily. Beginning statements with phrases like many people feel ..., some people tell me ..., often this is about ..., sometimes I have been told that ... can provide a starting point to encourage the patient to talk honestly about a difficult topic.
INSTRUCTIONS: Watch the extract from the depression scenario below and take note of how the doctor reassures the patient that his feelings are not uncommon, then from the statements below, choose which one is the best normalising statement.
Question 1. Mary has been very stressed with work and has come to see the doctor because she is feeling run down. The doctor says:
Question 2. John has come to see the doctor because he has a lot of pain in his arm. The doctor says:
Question 3. The doctor has prescribed her patient a course of medication that the patient hasn’t taken before and is concerned that the patient understands when to take each dose. The doctor says:
Question 4. Brett has come to see the doctor because he is always tired even though he is getting plenty of sleep. The doctor says:
Please answer every question before continuing.
FEEDBACK: These examples aren’t the only possible normalising statements for these scenarios. The important thing to convey is that the patient is not the only person to experience the problem. Normalising statements are useful to reassure the patient and make them feel more comfortable talking about their issues.