Training Video Illustrates Ways of Giving Feedback After Diagnostic Assessment

March 4, 2011

This past Fall, the JFK Partners LEND Family Discipline Committee created a training video that demonstrated three mock feedback sessions, each with a different psychologist and agenda. This was part of our ongoing efforts to incorporate more hands-on learning experiences into the Family Discipline curriculum. We invited three psychologists to participate, two of whom would demonstrate flaws in the feedback process. The third psychologist would present a capable clinician; warm and sensitive but professional.

Each psychologist was given 15 minutes to greet their pretend parent, give the diagnosis, answer a few questions, and review resources and recommendations. The first psychologist represented the overly effusive, disorganized clinician. She accomplished this by repeatedly patting the knee of the parent sitting across from her as she rambled on, describing how wonderful the child, "Jake," was to work with. She delayed giving the diagnosis, much to the consternation of the parent, and once she did, she dismissed the parent's concerns by saying he would be "just fine." Recommendations were vague and included acronyms such as ABA, SI therapy, RDI, and OT given without explanation or prioritization.

The second psychologist represented the cold, detached professional. She avoided smiling at the parent or making eye contact, and everything she said persuaded one that she held no affection for the child. She did come right to the diagnosis but in an abrupt way, and she offered nothing more in the way of specific information until the parent asked a few direct questions. Her prognosis was quite grim and devoid of hope. She concluded the session by saying the parent should read the report when it came, give it to the school and let them decide how to proceed.

The video ends with a feedback session we considered to be very good so LEND Fellows could see how it should be done. The final psychologist represented the excellent combination of being warm and kind, truly interested in the welfare of the child and family members, and thoughtful in what information and resources made the most sense for all those involved. The only unforeseen flaw was that she was not able to be all of these things in the 15 minutes allotted, but even this problem provided an opportunity for discussion.

When the video is shown to Fellows, they were given no background information other than to propose they watch and discuss which aspects of each feedback were done well and which could be improved upon. Fellows picked up on many of the errors we had planned and even a few unintentional ones. They also found the positive in every psychologist's approach. The training session concluded by discussing that although no one is perfect, imperfections are more easily forgiven when the clinician finds a caring way to connect with the parents and child.