No matter what the profession, when a person or a family is in crisis, let’s talk “with” them and not “at” them. Chances are they have already had multiple providers such as Probation, Child Protective, and/or a school principal tell them what to do. Our job as mental health providers is to listen and discuss the barriers to them doing something different.
As a former school social worker, I have to catch myself talking “at” schools. I have to remind myself that not every school runs like the school I worked at. Not every client has the same culture, values, or solutions that I have. As a case manager, my job is to listen and then problem solve potential barriers to treatment success. It is the part of my job that I love, especially when the family and other providers agree on a productive plan for my client. I had a couple of these in recent weeks and they have reminded me what it takes for good collaboration when a client is struggling. The keys to talking “with” others are active listening, reflecting, feedback, and asking clarification. No matter what treatment philosophy you ascribe to, please attempt to integrate these skills with your clients and other professionals.