Saturday's workshop on difficult clients, issues and situations was a real eye opener for me. I managed to correctly identify my own weak areas in which I felt I'd found it difficult to help: transexuals and people who have been cruel, or raped others. I even suggested that I might be able to try in both circumstances. However, I didn't realise that I would have the reaction I did as I related a story in which I felt partly reponsible for a situation that led to girl's rape and her attempted suicide. My naievity and the fact that I had little control aside, I was not prepared to have to fight my emotions in order to explain the story. I had thought it related to helping a rapist. It seems now that I would feel too emotionally attached to a rape victim to maintain my distance and keep my agenda to myself.
I felt embarrased, caught in the middle of my story, on the verge of tears and not feeling as if I could just stop. I was shocked by my own outpouring, and felt at my most naked before the whole group: this issue seems core to my regrets. Although I didn't feel comfortable to let go of my emotions completely, I felt accepted and empathised with by the group.
I guess that personal disclosures as a counsellor or helper doesn't come without its obstacles. Were I to have been in a helping situation and I had recounted the story to a distraught helpee, my sudden burst of emotion and memory would have offbalanced the session, removed focus from the helpee, turned about the session and could be potentially disasterous for the helpee to feel that they will be listened to by someone who doesn't have their own issues to think about or deal with. If this were to happen, I would be completely vulnerable as I wouldn't have protected myself in my personal disclosures.
The tasks relating to dealing with a difficult client: a patient left to wait for 45 minutes and the homeowner with the leak; covered two points, firstly the need for the helper to proactive, guide and offer the client/helpee choices, options and the such like, but also to redirect them to a better and more helpful person/company for their situation. To this end the key is to show interest to the helpee, to make give them your full attention and provide them with ideas and solutions that are practical and give them a sense that things are or will happen, and not to try a fob off approach or go round and round in a circular argument. Sometimes other options may not be appropriate and there is only one choice to be made, but with empathy and confidence on the part of the helper, the helpee shouldn't be left feeling as if they're on their own.