Let us now discuss each of these barriers one by one.
Physical barriers refer to environmental factors that prevent or reduce opportunities for the communication process to occur. They include:
- A counseling room which does not offer privacy;
- Poor lighting;
- Dirty and untidy room;
- Distracting noise;
- Extreme temperatures;
- Uncomfortable seating arrangement;
- Distractions in the room such as equipment and visual aids;
- Objects and chemicals which are dangerous to the patient/client.
If the room where you serve patients/clients at your health unit has any of these barriers you should do something to improve it.
Differences in Social and Cultural background
When a patient/client is from a different nationality, race or ethnic group, it may be difficult for you to know the patient/client’s beliefs, taboos and cultural practices. The patient/client may not be able to take action because perhaps the information you give him/her does not tally with his/her beliefs, taboos etc. As a good counselor you should endeavour to know a patient’s/clients’ cultural background before you start a counseling session.
Non-verbal communication involves all the little things you do while you talk to a patient/client. It includes:
- Showing signs of boredom or humour
- Showing signs of disgust
- Displaying signs of despise towards a client
- Nodding the head
- Shaking the head
Some non-verbal communications are negative while others are positive. Nodding the head is a positive non-verbal communication. Gesturing can be both positive and negative non-verbal communication. Therefore, try to make good gestures which will demonstrate your interest, concern and understanding of the patient’s/client’s expressions. These may be a smile or occasional nodding in appreciation of what a patient/client tells you.
Barriers caused by patient/client
Let us now look at some of the barriers that may be caused by a patient/client. These are:
- Lack of interest in being counselled
- Patient’s/client’s appearance to you (impression)
- Patient/client’s emotions
It is important that you motivate your patients/clients and arouse their interest as soon as you start the counseling session. Use of visual aids helps arouse patients’/clients’ interest. It also stimulates active thinking and learning while providing a shared experience. Lack of interest makes a patient/client inattentive and biased in thinking. If there is something disturbing a patient/client, such as a family or social problem, you should be able to identify it. If you think the patient/client is so disturbed that they cannot benefit from the session, you should postpone it to another day. If you fail to handle your patient/clients problem they may never come to back to see you again. We hope you are now well prepared to counsel malaria patients/clients. Next, let us consider the IEC messages you should give on malaria prevention and control.