|19 May 2014 @ 14:09, by Gerald Vest|
Engaging Injured Warriors and Families
Engage Clients and Families with Awareness, Respect, Kindness and Empathy
Gerald W. Vest, ACSW, LISW, LMT
When we acknowledge that we are responsible for our own pain, we have the key to unlock ineffective patterns of avoidance. With practice, we can replace restraint and fear of pain with compassion and understanding. Tarthang Tulku, Knowledge of Freedom-Time to Change.
My good friend and founder Administrator for NMSU School of Social Work, Emeritus Professor Sallee, introduces us to the Social Worker approach to Engaging our Client with respect and dignity: Engagement is the first step in the planned change process and marks the establishment of a helping relationship between the social worker(therapist) and client. During the engagement the worker demonstrates a genuine interest in helping the client, an ability to understand the client's feelings and situation (empathy), and the capacity to listen carefully to what is being communicated, both verbally and non-verbally. To the clients, workers are expected to communicate warmth, genuineness, authenticity, and an interest in helping (empowering) them." Alvin Sallee, LISW, Social Work & Social Welfare: An Introduction, Eddie Bowers Pub., 2004
While engaging our clients and families in ‘therapeutic encounters-sessions’, I learned that analyzing, evaluating and assessing requires additional processes with our Mind. For example, every question brings our senses, past experiences-observations all into our analysis or assessment of our presenting ‘problem or concern.’ For example, looking for Symptoms to Identify a Post Traumatic Injury (disorder) or Brain Injury, conventional therapists often start their sessions to cover their system requirements and self-preservation by identifying a Code # 90XXX so that they can receive payment for meeting with our Injured Warriors and Families.
This is simply a violation of a helping person’s or professional responsibility knowing that to “Start where the Client Is” is an essential way to relate empathetical and to interact, provide comfort, compassion and understanding. Even in emergencies I’ve observed several providers seeking all kinds of extraneous information to fill out their “forms” and complete their business requirements before the patient introduces themselves and is tended to. All one has to do is visit your local medical system, hospital, behavioral-mental health agency and notice how long you are required to be in their waiting rooms to be attended to while you fill out these Insurance Forms…if you have insurance. Often patients sit in hospital reception for hours in our community without checking on their customers with courtesy, respect and kindness while waiting to be "served" and "treated."
“Eh HEY” (wake up)!!! “Start where the Client is” by being in the present moment. Here and Now!!! Don’t be concerned about the future while sitting with your laptop, often not even facing your client—of course you need to be informed about your client’s reason for being here and this will be addressed by your client when we listen, first and foremost. Remember what you are here to offer in terms of healing, restoration, resilience—respect, honesty, openness, acceptance, allowing with No Judgment, No Labels, No Belief and No Psychotropic. Provide ‘health’ practice options and opportunities. Explore with your client a professional self-care plan to recover fully with a commitment and a host of health practices—massage, Reiki, acupuncture, therapeutic touch, meditation, breathing strategies, outings, art, tai chi, Psychocalisthenics, Kath States, support groups, etc.
And, awaken your consciousness to the fact that you are not looking to fit diagnostic categories, unless you are doing research on the Psychic Meds given most everyone who sets foot in an office of a psychiatrist. They believe that these meds will help their patients for some reason; however, the evidence of efficacy is not present, nor is the appreciation that long-term use produces a reduction in the frontal lobe of the Brain, much like their earlier lobotomies. Psychiatry-Psychology-Clinical Social Work-Counseling Psychology are reckless with their labels and cocktails and it is time for us as Social Workers to Say Goodbye, So Long, we want nothing more to do with you, your labels, your drugs and your unwillingness to “Start where Your Patient Is.” Because you call yourselves Health Professionals, introduce your patients to health services and practices that work and “Cause No Harm.”
Visit our Southern New Mexico(SNM)Alliance Website that will introduce numerous options with Evidence Based Health Practices. Our 15 Minute Stress-Out Program and many other strength based programs and activities are introduced so that therapists can refer. Meditation and Awareness are key to developing empathy, understanding and compassion as practiced by Integrative and Holistic Health Practitioners.
Note: Visit and Plan a Workshop for your Program—Engaging Injured Warriors and Families Returning from the Wars: [link] (CEU’s Provided)
See “Guidelines for Empathic Therapy” that incorporates these values into our direct practice.
Picture by Robin Woolley, LISW, SNM Health Promotion Team