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Chapter 9

SW 320 Chapter 9: Gaining Further Understanding (Chang, Scott, & Decker)

Social Work
Course Code
SW 320
Dr.Lisa Baron

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Chang, V. N., Scot, S. T., & Decker, C. L. (2013). Gaining further understanding.
In Developing helping skills: A step-by-step approach to competency (2nd
ed.) (pp. 157-170). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.
Chapter 9: Gaining Further Understanding
Using Questions to Explore Further
Before asking questions, it is important to express understanding by:
o Reflecting feelings
o Reflecting content
o Reflecting content and feelings
o Reflecting meanings
o Summarizing
It is important to express empathy first and to avoid asking many questions
Questions asked without a thorough understanding of what the client has just said can
also be confusing to the client or change the direction of the conversation inappropriately
Open-Ended Questions
Open-ended questions: questions that are broad and require more than one or two word
They invite clients to think and reflect and to express their opinions and feelings
Open-ended questions are broad enough so that clients can decide how to reply
Examples of phrases that begin open-ended questions:
o Will you tell me more about…?
o Will you tell me more about how you feel when…?
o Who could help with…?
o What seems to help when…?
o How important is…?
o Will you explain more about…?
o Tell me more about what happened when…
Examples of open-ended questions:
o Tell me about who has helped you with this problem.
o How have other people helped you with this problem?
o What led you to seek help at this time?
o Tell me about improvements you’ve noticed since our last appointment.
o What would your life be like if this problem wasn’t going on?
o How have others you know solved this type of problem?
o Who have you talked to about this problem?
o How did it help to talk to others about this problem?
o Tell me about what it feels like to have this problem.
o How have you solved other problems in your life?
o What do you understand about the kind of help I might offer you?
o Tell me about what you have done to work on this problem
Some questions are open-ended and go beyond what the client has expressed.
If practitioners ask questions using language that the client has not used, this may limit
rather than expand the area of exploration
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