I had to apologize to a provider today for shooting off an email yesterday. This provider was a local director on special education. It was myself and other providers in an email group set up to monitor the success of a planning meeting for my 12 year old client last week. She sent a point that I disagreed with and I made a response to the group. Her response to this was to send me a private message that I disagreed with very strongly. I felt that what they were asking the family to do was unfair and potentially against special education law. I felt like he was being treated like a liability that needed to be taken care of. In the interest of self disclosure, I only read half the email and it was the half that triggered a really angry response and included all the others in the original email group in the meeting. The director of special ed requested at the bottom that I call her and not respond via email to others.
In retrospect I really shot from the hip and did not practice what I preach to my clients. THINK BEFORE YOU ACT. At the time I thought I was advocating for my client but my wording was too strong and sharing an individual email was unprofessional.
I apologized for this, but did not apologize for pointing out that he did not just need a baby sitter. The client needed an educational program that met his clinical needs (significant PTSD and borderline IQ). This client needed a smaller student-to-teacher ratio and more counseling supports not just to simply have him get through the day without “hurting someone” but to learn new skills. I got the sense that he was just a liability for his current placement and not a student struggling with a disability. As a social worker this triggered some negative feelings that I got carried away with.
The apology was accepted and it seems like we are moving forward. Time will tell of my advocacy went to far. I hope it did not ruin my relationship with others or the perception of my agency. Historically, I have just asked for clarification over the phone but something was different. I will try to catch myself next time. The “trigger” was him being treated as “the problem”. We ask our clients to be mindful of their triggers we need to be perhaps more mindful of ours. THINK BEFORE YOU ADVOCATE. 🙂