Sunday, May 11, 2008

counseling is cooperative

I learned an important lesson about counseling on Friday night at Street Ministry. I sat down to talk to a regular, and he really opened up to me. While we've talked a lot before, it surprised me just how honest he was. He spoke of feeling extremely paranoid and always being scared that people were watching him and out to get him. As we talked, I of course used some of my "wonderful social work skills"...aka, I used a lot of reflection. He totally responded to this and was saying "yes, that's exactly it, etc...". This was a great.

As we were talking, I started thinking to myself, how can I help him work through this challenge. And then it occurred to me. He didn't ask me for help! It's pretty hard to help someone who's not on board with the process. I can use all the skills in the world, but unless we're on the same page, it's not going to work.

This actually taught me a lot about the way I work, it sort of reminded me about free will, client self determination and a bunch of other things I *know*. I told the client he can come back and talk to me next week, and he seemed to like that idea. In fact, he was really happy. He wanted to make sure I would actually be there and not out on the streets or something. It was hard to tell him that I couldn't promise but that I would do my best. Street Ministry isn't set up for therapy, it's set up as a drop in, and while it's nice to have skills I can use, I have to set limits. It's SO exciting to finally be done school, I just want to use all the stuff I've learned right away, these things take time though, and I have plenty of that, so I'm going to try and slow down, and work with people where they're at, to the best of my abilities, as I can.

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