Communication & Medicine. An Interdisciplinary Journal of Healthcare, Ethics and Society. 2020, 15 (3), DOI: 10.1558/cam.32765
This paper presents findings from a study on the ways in which counsellors working at national centres for rare disorders in Norway experience preparing, and being prepared for, a face-to-face patient consultation. The research involved semi-structured interviews with five experienced counsellors from different health professional backgrounds working at two separate centres. These interviews were then analysed with reference to the theoretical insights of phenomenologists. The excerpts chosen for this paper shed particular light on the process of preparing for a face-to-face patient consultation. Our findings underline the significance of preparing and being prepared while also drawing attention to the multifaceted, complex and ambiguous nature of the processes involved. Preparing for face-to-face consultations with patients is revealed to require approaches that are thoughtful, flexible and empathic. To be prepared for something one does not yet know is about being open to the unexpected and the unpredictable.