February 24, 2017 at 10:04 am #129193
So.. I’m training to be a counsellor, and I also actively mentor/counsel young children/students and have completed as a Mental Health First Aider.
I have noticed a handful of people coming to me for advice on situations – which I am happy to help and obviously see it as a great opportunity for me to put what I’ve learnt into practice and great that people are recognising me for that.
My concern, that has cropped up a few times is this.. people come to me with a problem, whether it be physical or emotional, after a short talk it transpires that they should change a few things/use techniques etc – maybe if they have a fear, recognising they have a fear and opening themselves up to the fear, I tend to use Graded Exposure (Graded Exposure is a way of treating a range of anxiety problems. It works best with simple phobias or other anxiety problems where you can identify what it is that you are anxious about. The basic idea is to gradually expose yourself to the feared situation in a way that allows you to control your fear at each step.) I recommend meditation also – and I don’t just say “you must meditate, you must do this” etc and as I’m giving advice on a personal basis on these occasions and not professional, I will emphasise on how much it has helped me and give an example, talk about it a lot etc, so basically I’m not just saying try this this and this and giving a list by not explaining it (because I understand that would not work or appeal to anyone). But anyway, I give as much information as I can and examples etc.. my frustration is that they’ll go away and not do those things, but catch up with me a few days, weeks or months later and say they’re still struggling. When I ask if they have tried the techniques I have given they say “oh no I haven’t had time”.
This really frustrates me.. should I be getting frustrated? I guess yes because I’m spending time with these people to help them, but when they say they haven’t had time or whatever it’s like well I haven’t got a magic pill to make you better & I do say ok well there isn’t much else I can do but I would highly recommend this & go over it once more.
I know I may encounter this when I start practicing as a profession, however, when that be the case most people would be paying for the service so I could mention that, whereby these individuals are family or friends so it just comes out in a catch up or likewise, so they haven’t invested time & money in me to ‘believe’ my solutions work.
What is everyone’s thoughts on this?February 24, 2017 at 10:59 am #129197
Well the therapist can give measures, make the person see things clearly but at the end of the day people have to do their homework to get the results. This is applicable even when diseases like obesity, diabetes, heart disease are looked at.
Instead of taking their lack of effort as a reflection of your inability, try to understand that you can encourage them to take baby steps, be accountable to change. There is a reason why many prefer a group class or trainer than exercising alone. The former provides a push and group pressure to do the necessary work.
Manage yourself better when you feel frustrated at their lack of progress. Understand that this will take more time.
Even with paid clients, find means to bring in accountability and to motivate them to find time in small slots. Will-power is a finite resource and is like a muscle in a static state. It needs exercise and rest to grow.February 24, 2017 at 11:18 am #129205
Best for you to offer a person/ future client one little piece of an assignment, you can call it “homework.” Just one exercise, small, simple to understand, requiring the minimum expenditure of time and energy, something you can have them do in the session with you and then do again at home, practice just that one thing.
The less you assign a person, the less you suggest they do; and the simpler your suggestion, the more likely the person will follow up on it, practice it.
Offer one technique, not two, just one, and package it for the person in the most palatable way possible: easy, simple, fast.
Oh, and as a future therapist, do cultivate that endless, sometimes excruciating amount of patience that you will need and which will serve you well.
anitaFebruary 24, 2017 at 3:23 pm #129253
Brilliant. That sounds like a good idea to me.
Would you say my frustration comes from me thinking I’m not good enough or similar? I’ve been working on my self loads recently so seeing these things are good & wonder if they’re just ‘random’ or relevant to inside.February 24, 2017 at 6:47 pm #129265
I am not clear about what you are asking. Can you ask more clearly?
anitaFebruary 25, 2017 at 12:41 am #129297
I guess I just wonder where that frustration comes from or is it natural/normal?
I guess the answer lies within but wasn’t sure if from an outside point of view it was obvious.
I think in some ways Ive felt “not enough” for years. Maybe there are still remnants inside of me that may feel like that in times like this. “People mustnt believe me to not do it” etcFebruary 25, 2017 at 4:27 am #129315
This means that you are taking it too personally and turning it into a source of frustration. As Anita rightly pointed out, patience is key.
The question of why it’s there and whether it’s just a normal thing.
A part of it is normal. We humans like a sense of validation and achievement. We want to see our work being of use to others.
So it is normal to feel a bit impatient when we see people not following things and still struggling. We have already embarked on our own journey, done the work and now want others to enjoy the benefits too of starting positive changes. So the impatience comes when they don’t and their words sound more like excuses.
But like us at one point, they too are going at their own pace and will come through with proper guidance. Accepting this and nudging them is what is needed rather than feeling bad.
Frustration is a strong word though. Yes it can irritate but frustrate happens when we begin to question our effectiveness and worth in terms of how well our suggestions are being taken.
I am not sure which is the case in your situation but either way, more patience is needed for yourself and the clients.
NinaFebruary 25, 2017 at 9:50 am #129341
No need to apologize about the fact that I wasn’t clear about what you meant- you did nothing wrong.
A few thoughts:
I think lots and lots of medical doctors share your frustration or shared it, before they stop caring: people with bad habits come to see the doctors for health issues, obese people for example, having type 2 diabetes, and the doctor recommends losing weight. How often does the patient not take that advice? A whole lot. And indeed, the patient wants that “magic pill” you mentioned, a drug that will fix the problem.
Your core belief of not being good-enough (so common I don’t think there is a single individual who doesn’t or didn’t believe it at times) was not evident to me from your sharing on this thread. But now that you brought it up-
your I-am-not-good-enough (person, daughter, therapist, etc.) core belief, this is not going away anytime soon. It is a belief that requires more work over time. The work you do on yourself regarding this core belief gives you the experience you need to help people who share this core belief. The work itself that you do gives you experience that you cannot get any other way, not from reading a book, attending a lecture. You LIVE it and then you know it.
This core belief, as painful as it is at times, is your opportunity to learn from so you can help others, be a better therapist. You learn from it as you are engaged in the process of healing from it.
anitaFebruary 26, 2017 at 4:16 am #129455
Thank you both very much.
I guess on reflection that yes frustration is probably not the right word, I think disappointment may be better? But not so much in my self, I think maybe for them? I sometimes feel sad that they’re suffering & I just want to make things good, so when my efforts are there to do that, by giving advice to a friend & not on a professional basis, I expect them to take it & change it (not necessarily straight away) or else they’ll keep suffering.
I need to manage the deattachment from feeling their suffering, but I guess that comes from them being friends/family, therefore that attachment is different to if I were doing it on a professional basis with people I wouldn’t see again (I might do but not as likely), because they’re in my life personally I care for them in a different way to which I’d care for a client, if that makes sense.
But yes, when I compare it to my journey, I realise that I never even listened to myself when I knew things were wrong in my relationship for example, u just ignored myself for about a year, then when we split up was when I started making changes. People will only change & make an effort to make changes when they’re truly suffering & want to heal. I need to remember that it is all at their own pace & I can give the advice & tools needed, but not everyone will follow them straight away or at allFebruary 26, 2017 at 5:53 am #129465
It is my understanding that professional, competent psychotherapists cannot have a family member or friend as a patient or client because of the lack of objectivity required for the therapist-patient relationship. The excellent therapist I had told me he gives “Zero Advice” to his family members. That was his policy. He “zeroed in” on their feelings, he said. My understanding it, he listened and showed empathy for their problems, but offered no advice.
If you offer family and friends no advice, you will not be disappointed when they don’t take it.
anitaFebruary 26, 2017 at 6:52 am #129471
That sounds pretty practical!
I was writing a reply out to you as an ‘against’ what you said, but in writing it I found my own answers so deleted it 🙂 I love when that happens!
Thanks for your helpFebruary 26, 2017 at 7:39 am #129477
You are welcome, Poppyxo.
anitaFebruary 27, 2017 at 6:50 am #130595
One good line to use in closing is, “Get back to me after you’ve done (homework assignment #1) and let me know how it goes.”
Then if they do come back to you and still kvetch and complain, ask if they’ve done (homework assignment #1). If they haven’t, say “Do (homework assignment #1) and let me know how it goes.” Like a broken record.
Eventually they’ll do the work (and have a breakthrough) or they’ll talk about other things with you.
Don’t get frustrated. One in ten might do The Work. But it will be worth it.