By Hanneke Rabé
I am sure some of you remember the iconic tagline of the 90s television series “Frasier” when Dr Frasier Crane starts his psychology radio show with: “I’m listening”.
I must admit, this was the first thing I thought about when sitting in my university lecture hall, listening to a lecture on counselling and gathering case history. My lecturer at the time drove home the point that our initial interview with you is one of the most important parts of a diagnostic test battery. It reveals the reason our patient is sitting in front of us; it is the key to unlock the whole process. And I listened.
When we ask good questions, we try and piece together a puzzle of elements that all tie together the nature of your problem, the impact it is having on your life, your hopes and expectations for overcoming this barrier and of course what other issues might be causing or contributing to your problem. These might include medical conditions, challenging listening environments or even difficult communication partners (yes… I am referring to the teenager that mumbles and talks to you from under a tuff of hair obstructing your view of their face and their mouths moving just enough for sound to barely escape their lips).
I spend time understanding where my patients are coming from and planning how I can overcome the physical and sometimes psychological barriers that seem to be holding them back. It helps me plan what technological or therapeutic options are best suited to address their needs but most of all it helps me to get to know who my patient is.
Audiology is not a quick solution; it is not taking a pill or seeing a medical professional once off. Audiology involves time and counselling and most of all a trust-based team approach that is borne from setting up a real relationship, such that we know enough about you, but also, you know enough about me.
As a therapist, the most helpful tool I ever leant was mindful listening. Truly listening to you lets us both ask the right questions about your hearing issues. Ultimately, this is the only way to find a successful solution to a quality of life issue of such great importance.