Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Facilitated communication in the learning and practice setting: a service user and facilitator's perspective

Keywords: users perspective, communication, practice learning

Authors: Margaret Bryan (Eight Miles Out), Aman Lee (Eight Miles Out)

Good communication skills are fundamental in establishing effective working relationships between service users and professionals working within human services. Workers have a responsibility to provide information and communication support that enhances the working relationship and that is appropriate to the individuals needs. This ensures that service users are included in and benefit from the services and opportunities offered.
It is therefore important to hear from users, what helps and hinders the communication process.
Our topic will look at some of the practice issues involved in establishing effective communication with someone who uses Facilitated Communication (FC), an alternative method to spoken English.
The aim is not to debate the authenticity of FC, although some issues will be highlighted but to provide the opportunity, to hear from one individual who lives life on the autistic spectrum and his facilitator, who use this form of communication in the training of social work staff and students, and in consultation events or individual interviews.
We will explore what can cause interruptions or distractions to the training and practice process for user, facilitator and learner and offer some suggestions that could improve interactions, and increase our understanding of the issues involved in using FC thus impacting subsequent learning.
Given the complexity of this communication process, the topic will be best presented in a workshop context. Participants will hear from both the user and facilitator's perspective about some of the issues, tensions and challenges of using FC, in a variety of settings. Practical issues such as how to lessen stress and improve communication will be addressed.

This topic will be of interest to practitioners, researchers and policy makers who interact, consult and provide services for users of human services.
The presentation will identify difficulties, tensions and challenges in using facilitated communication and hear from a user and facilitator's perspective the impact on the communication process. Some insights and suggestions, that could improve interactions and communication between service users and professionals, will be offered.

Date: Friday 25 January 2008, 11.30-12.30

Venue: Harris One

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).