Thursday, August 11, 2011

on disclosure and/or did I tell you that?

That's a picture of her highness madam Sophie Cat licking out the inside of an empty cat food bag. I always give them the bag to play with, but I've never seen her disappear completely into it until tonight. The picture reminds me of being a counsellor in some ways, because for the most part, we stick a lot of our personal lives away in back corner and we don't talk about them with clients; they only see a little piece of us, like the tail sticking out of the bag. It's not a perfect metaphor, but the picture works for today's topic.

As a counsellor, I try to be quite "real" with clients. I share perhaps slightly more about my personal life than some, but I think for the most part, I really am quite guarded. All of my clients know I like cats, of course, they can't help but know as soon as they set foot in my office. Many of them also know that I have a second job and where it is, and I'm okay with that. For the most part though, that's it. I see know point in giving out information about my personal life unless it's relevant to the client and in their best interests. The point of counselling is certainly not for me to tell MY story. When I do groups I think I tend to share more of myself, simply because I am constantly having to come up with examples. Even then, they mostly revolve around fairly generic things, such as the fact that I have friends, and a family, nothing very specific.

Because of the above, it surprised me, when a client recently commented not just on me moving into my house, but on me getting a roommate. You see, I very much do NOT remember telling her this, and I'm really not sure why I would have. I might have shared with the group she was in that I was moving (and honestly it was probably in the context of cats, and how they don't like change, and how people don't either), but I have no idea why I would talk about the roommate thing. I didn't tell my family till yesterday. I mentioned the situation to a couple people on my team and the best we can figure is that the client must have over heard me talking to my coworkers at some point, listened, and remembered. Either that or I'm really not paying attention to what I'm saying.

I think, regardless of how the client found out about the details of my life, it's a reminder to watch what I say at work. I need to be more mindful about disclosure and make sure I am keeping the focus on the client, including the small talk we make. It also means that I probably need to watch my volume and watch where I am talking to coworkers, especially remembering that the room we eat lunch in has vents which carry sound quite far. There are definitely some things I share with coworkers, particularly over lunch, that I wouldn't want my clients to know about.

As professionals, there is so much power in what we say, and I think it's good to remind myself o this more often than I do. Words have power, and clients pay attention to what we say. Time to start paying closer attention to my words.

1 comment:

Carolyn said...

Are you on Facebook -- under your real name? Is there something on there about you moving? (S)he may have creeped you there. It is a scary world out there.