Interview with Learning Hall Competition Winner Deborah Culbertson

By Amanda Farah Cox

The Ida Institute is pleased to announce the winner of our Learning Hall topic competition. As part of the launch of our new eLearning and discussion space, Ida held a competition asking for ideas for different topics for us to develop and discuss.

The winner is Deborah Culbertson, who submitted the idea to develop counseling scripts for clinical use. Deborah is a Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at East Carolina University, where she currently develops her own scripts as role-playing technique to help students gain a different perspective on the counseling process. We asked Deborah a few questions about the inspiration behind her winning idea:

What inspired you to begin writing counseling scripts?

In our counseling course, we discuss clinical situations that occur but for which I could not find video examples.  For example, how might a counseling session unfold if an audiologist were to ignore the apparent feelings or concerns of the family but focus instead on the audiology agenda for the appointment? While it is possible to discuss this, it is more engaging to write a brief script, act it out, and allow students to talk about what they observe with respect to the counseling offered and the family's response. Other issues, such as excessive off-topic talk by patients or angry patient responses can also be illustrated through counseling scripts.

In what scenarios do you use the scripts?

We have scripts related to situations that arise in everyday clinical appointments including teen resistance toward using hearing aids/FM systems, patients trying to establish overly personal or romantic relationships with clinicians, parents responding differently to the identification of hearing loss in their child. I have asked other audiologists to describe interesting counseling interactions that they have experienced and then I create a script to illustrate those interactions.

What does person-centered care mean to you?

To me the heart of person-centered care is establishing an effective therapeutic/counseling relationship with the individual with hearing loss and his/her family. In order to develop this relationship, I need to demonstrate that I am truly interested in understanding why the patient is seeking care, their experience of their hearing loss/tinnitus, and their goals.  

How do you use Ida tools in your work?

I believe that I heard about Ida through the ASHA Special Interest Group on Aural Rehabilitation and Instrumentation. I review the Ida tools routinely and especially like the Patient's Journey and the Communication Partner's Journey. I find that the Ida website offers a wealth of ideas to be used and adapted for one's clinical practice, so I routinely examine various parts of the website.