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Discuss the Guidelines for Talking about Sensitive Topics which will be useful to Counselors.

Discuss the Guidelines for Talking about Sensitive Topics which will be useful to Counselors.


1 Answer


The counselor must understand the history of the behaviour that exposes the clients to HIV infections and AIDS. Which means. he must obtain and interpret information about some very private and may be illegal and socially condemned behaviors in human sexuality. It is not easy to get people talk about this topic. It is the ability of the counselor to pull of the discussion and extract views and experiences about sexuality, drugs . injections, blood transfusions. The counselor may:

  • Gear the communication level to the emotional and intellectual level of the client.
  • Make the client feel safe, secure and accepted by supportive relationship.
  • Be demonstrative about topics that are usually avoided in social life or in medical consultancies.

The counselor can use any approach but most importantly he will require skill, perception, and sensitivity towards the client. Most of the clients develop confidence slowly and gradually. In the first few meetings the counselor must build a rapport with the client so that the client feel safe and trusts the counselor. The counselor’s stile must be reassuring, confident and direct along with he should be considerate of the client’s feelings and his difficulties.

Guidelines: The following points may help while talking about sensitive topics:

To know about the reason of the client’s worry the counselor may ask direct question and what is their expectation from the counselor. Example—What do you want from me/this clinic/ hospital right now? What made you visit me now? Example—In case of embarrassment in discussing sex related issues acknowledge it. Such as we do not discuss these matters in our culture or society, but since you feel you are at risk of infection we need to sort it out by mutual trust and clarification on some specific questions.

The counselor must explain it to the client clearly why does he want to inquire into sexual practices and other related habits so that he can help preventing it and passing it on to others. Example—There are many ways of transmitting HIV infection sharing needles is one of them and what can you do to keep yourself safe and at the same time protect others.

The counsel must wear formal expressions during the interviews. There is no harm in using slang expression if technical language as per the client’s preference. The expression should be straight so that the client does not feel that the counselor is making any moral judgement of client’s sexual behaviour.

Cultural factors influencing sexual behaviour. In some cultures preventive sex means not having sex at all, and thus the suggestions of safe sex is not received in a good sense. In such cases it is essential for the counselor to repeat that only complete safe behaviour is a monogamous long lasting relationship where non of the partner is infected with HIV which is found between husband and wife in our society. The counselor must anticipate the reactions of the client of amusement, embarrassment, turning away or even getting angry. Such as discussing masturbation some might feel angry due to cultural and religious limitations. But the counselor must keep on repeating client’s belief and explain what complete information is whatever may be the decision of the client.

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November 7, 2019