In sociology/social work a 12 year old girl lost her 14 year old brother in a accident. As a counselor, how can I complete the in-depth assessment for her and what can I do to establish rapport in...

In sociology/social work a 12 year old girl lost her 14 year old brother in a accident. As a counselor, how can I complete the in-depth assessment for her and what can I do to establish rapport in order to engage her in the process? I would have 3 sessions to complete the assessment.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Establish rapport by sharing something about yourself, listening to the girl and giving her an opportunity to keep a journal to write her feelings to down between sessions, so that you can read them later.

Three sessions is not very long to get to know someone, especially to determine how an adolescent’s older brother’s death affected her.  Of course, how you conduct the assessment and the length of time between each session, as well as the length of each session, would influence the outcome. 

One way to establish rapport is to share something about yourself.  If you have experienced a loss, you could share that.  You can also notice things about her, such as the color of her shirt, and comment on it to make a connection.  For example, if her shirt is pink, you can say you like pink.  It is little things like this that will help her get to see you as human and begin to break down the emotional walls she has put up to deal with the loss of her brother.

On balance you will want to listen carefully to cues in the girl’s language.  Look at her affect (the emotional expression on her face and her body language).  Pay attention just as much to what she does not say as what she says.  Also, track the change in behavior between sessions to see if she acts differently.  Try not to be too clinical.  If possible, try to get her to see you as a friend and a shoulder to cry on, and someone to listen to her, rather than just someone assessing her.  In this way, you will get more out of her faster. 

I am assuming, of course, that you will continue to see her and be her social worker after the assessment.  It might be a difficult thing for the girl if you develop a relationship with her and she trusts you, and then you never see her again.  However, if you give you give her the tools to cope with her brother’s loss and find her counseling if she needs it, she will eventually outgrow the need for assistance.

With younger children, you can have them draw pictures to show their emotions.  Adolescents can write to share their feelings.  If you give the girl a journal, she can write her feelings whenever she begins to feel overwhelmed.  Then, you can take a copy of the journal.  She might want to type the journal or even keep a blog.  By reading the journal, you will get more insight into the girl and more quickly.

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