|Daria Logo (source: en.wikipedia.org)|
Counsellors have an unenviable task. Anything that can be done to maximise outcomes and conveniently meet practice standards is valuable for these people.
I was struggling to figure out how I could give the participants a practical exercise in writing clinical notes on a low budget. The solution I came up with was to show a dysfunctional family scene, and ask the students to write clinical notes summarising what they saw happening.
In asked the participants to take notes on the same scene, as I was interested in what was common across the participants' notes, and what they saw differently. As I was teaching the SOAP Method of recording clinical notes, I was also interested in which elements they each recorded under each label - Subjective, Objective, Assessment and Plan.
I considered programs like Married with Children, Friends, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Neighbours, and others. I kept coming back to Daria - a tv show about a sensitive, practical girl who is a goth (or what we would have called 'alternative' in my teenage years) growing up in a family in which she is misunderstood. (That's a very short version of what it is about. It is a show I really enjoy, and I commend it to you.)
The segment I chose went for about two minutes. Daria was in hospital with a stress-induced rash. Her family was interacting with Daria, with each other, and with Daria's doctor. Daria's perspective was being ignored, and Daria was developing a crush on the doctor.
The segment from Daria may seem trivial - after all, it is just a cartoon. In the workshop, it generated about 20 separate points, and resulted in a 30 minute discussion about the interactions and what they tell us about the relationships. There was plenty of rich content to be turned into SOAP Notes.
Popular culture can be a useful piece of common ground, and the apparently trivial can lead to powerful interaction.