Saturday, February 27, 2010

Reflection Questions

Do we feel sorry for and try to rescue our clients/others? What is our story? Do we see our past selves as helpless victims in need of rescuing? Do we then proceed to see our clients as such?

Do we believe in our client's/others inherent capacity and natural thrust to grow and develop? Do we hold high expectations that they can accomplish their goals with our support? Si Se Puede and Yes We Can.

Are we enabling or empowering? What is the difference? What do these concepts mean in terms of what we do with and say to clients?

If we take a look at what we are doing - are we colluding with clients or being honest and courageous, and ultimately, loving?

If clients or friends come to us with the core belief, "I am incompetent" - do we agree with them and proceed to try to rescue or save?

My 2nd year MSW field instructor, Elizabeth, taught us that rescuing only leads to resentment for both rescuer and rescuee. The rescuer grows weary of the one-way giving, giving, giving (burnout, compassion fatigue, etc.). And the rescuee tires of feeling infantilized/babied or being rescued (I can do it myself! Don't you believe that I can do it myself? Do you think that you are better than me because you do it for me?). She talked about taking a stance of not rescuing with a vengeance as a counterpoint to the longstanding urge.

If we were parentified children, then do we continue this pattern into adulthood? Do we take on inordinate amounts of responsibility whenever there is an absence of leadership? In childhood this meant survival. In adulthood, what does this mean and do to our bodies/selves? If we let the system fail, would that usher in a transformation of the system? Are we enabling a dysfunctional system that needs to die/fail and change? Why do we insist on plugging up the damn with our own thumb? Why do we insist on carrying the world on our shoulders? No wonder our shoulders hurt. Why is taking care of ourselves and doing our part not enough? If we did this, would this leave some space for others to step in and do more? Would this allow an opening for more of us to feel the pride of achievement and contribution?

Do past experiences with our own parents color our expectations about whether our clients parents will care, pull through, participate in treatment, take responsibility and claim their child? Do we make assumptions about parents before picking up the phone to give them a chance? How do we approach parents? Is it engaging? insecure? hopeful? blaming? avoidant?

If we say we value the strengths perspective, then how many minutes or what percentage of time during any client interview do we spend talking about strengths (vs. pathology and symptoms)? 1 minute? 5 minutes? 30 minutes? 10%? 50%? 75%?


  1. i like your comment about making assumptions before picking up the phone to call parents.

    i'm guilty, and appreciate the reminder to use compassion and approach w/ an open mind.

  2. Thanks, sissay. I can always count on your courage and self-awareness.


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