Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I didn't see that coming!!

It seems always challenging to be with our patients when they are dealing with something that we don't understand or haven't experienced it. To make it work, and it often does, takes patience, empathy and a person who is willing to teach us about their experiences.

On the other hand, having someone dealing with something that we know all to well can be disarming. This is when good supervision is really helpful, so we can tell the difference between our person reactions to our past experiences and are relations to this particular patent's experience.

Sometimes, we get to visit some of the more painful experiences. This happened recently when a patient return after many months. We had been working on helping her get through a awful accident. When I saw her name in my schedule, I thought that this was troubling her again. Instead, she was dealing with an abrupt break up with her boyfriend. As we discussed it, I was jolted back in my memory to a painful break up over 3 decades ago!! I was able to use what I learned from that experience to help her. When I saw my supervisor (fortunately in the next hour) I talked about how unprepared I was for that lovely memory.

In one of my first classes in social work school, the professor said,

" It is hard to take patients to places that you have not been."

Wise words.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

portable quote

This quote came from Jim Garland , former group guru and faculty at the Boston University School of Social Work. Many years ago, I had organized a meeting with him an my fellow male social work students to talk about our experiences. He said,

Men have side by side relationships and women have face to face relationships.

For a sweeping generalization, I have found this to be very helpful over the years in understanding some important relational differences. I was reminded of it recently while meeting with a mother and her adult daughter. And it turned out that one of their struggles is that the daughter prefers a "face to face" relational approach while the mother prefers to have an activity involved approach, like cooking - a side by side approach. Being able to understand what they want from each other has meant and will continue to mean looking for intersecting relational opportunities.