Respond to at least two colleagues who suggested a different strategy and suggest different approaches to working with Helen. Please use two references. APA formatting and according to subtitles. Also, ask a question for student to answer.
Response to Michael,
Post a description of ways, as Helen’s social worker, you might address Helen’s anger and accusations against you.
It is important to understand Helen’s frustration. I personally would not look at her anger or frustration being directed at me (perhaps indirectly, because I have now become part of Helen’s social environment). Although I might be being blamed for the current predicament, I would feel that the anger stems from what her son did, and Helen being overwhelmed with her various roles in life. In addressing Helen’s anger and frustration, I would validate her feelings. I would also mention that there is no one to blame for the actions of her son. I would show empathy, and genuine concern to Helen wanting to protect her son, however, I feel that there is a form of abuse here by Alec, and his actions may need to be reported to the authorities. He stole his grandmothers Oxycodone, and there is not telling what else he is using it for on top of what using it for himself. He also took checks from Magda and cashed them without permission. This is an ethical dilemma, but it appears that Alec has broken the law.
How might you feel at that moment, and how would you maintain a professional demeanor?
During the moment, I would feel bad for Helen. She trusted her son to do the right thing and it back fired. In keeping with the context of the scenario (I would have included Magda and Alec in the assessment stage prior to implementing a plan for Alec to live with Magda) I would feel that I did nothing ethically, legally, nor morally wrong. If I am within these margins, being professional in this scenario should not be a problem. I deal with disgruntled people all day, and they test my patience’s on a regular basis.
Finally, how might you use self-disclosure as a strategy in working with Helen?
According to Hill & Knox (2001), “therapists should generally use disclosures to validate reality, normalize, model, strengthen the alliance, or offer alternative ways to think or act” (p. 416). I would validate Helen’s anger towards her son. I would inform her that often when I get angry it is easy to blame someone else for your anger. But unfortunately, no matter who you blame for your distress, your pain still exists, and you continue to suffer. In fact, in some cases, the angrier you get, the worse you pain will feel. I would then state, being angry, however, does not provide a solution to the problem. It is apparent that Alec can not be trusted to live with Magda, and Helen desperately needs some assistance in caregiving task. I like the strengths-perspective, family-centered therapy, dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and the solution-focused orientation when helping the Petrakis family, because this is a family issue (I know this is a lot of orientations being used, but they complement each other). In using the solution-focused orientation, I would be seeking for different alternatives to help (thinking) Magda; thus, decreasing Helen’s stress. I also think the family may need counseling about the potential burden they may feel when trying to take care of Magda. DBT can help Helen to radically accept a situation for what it is (this does not mean Helen will condone or agree with Alec’s behavior).
Hill, C. E., & Knox, S. (2001). Self-disclosure. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 38(4), 413–417
Response to Kelley
In working with a client such as Helen, I would have to be very mindful of my own personal triggers and have a great understanding of how I can handle these triggers in a personal and professional manner in order to not harm the working relationship that I have with Helen. Although Helen is very angry, she is deflecting her anger on the wrong person. In order to overcome this, I will listen intently to what Helen has to say, through all of the yelling and profanity. I would keep constant eye contact with her and show empathy and understanding of her frustrations. According to Kirst-Ashman & Hull, empathy is an important step in the client/professional relationship because it shows the client that we understand what they are saying, but that we also have an understanding of how they are feeling (2012). I feel that this will help to defuse the situation and allow her to see that I understand what she is going through. Maintaining a calm voice with her as she is yelling and cussing could prove to be difficult as it could be a trigger for me, but I would work very hard to help Helen to better understand that I am not the bad guy and that I truly want to help her. Once Helen has expressed her anger fully, I would take the time to show her that I understand by validating the things that she is telling me and understanding that her anger truly isn’t at myself but at her situation and from the fear that she has over what her son is doing and the trouble that he is causing. I would explain that while I know she feels that I allowed for this to happen, that it was impossible for me to know that it could have been an issue when she did not share with me that he had a drug abuse problem beforehand. I would explain that if I had known this that we would have come up with a different plan, or put precautions into place to keep this from harming her mother in law and potentially her son. Ensuring that I am on Helen’s side as well as the rest of the family will help to build a stronger relationship with Helen and hopefully allow her to start realizing where the true problems lie.
Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2012). Understanding generalist practice (6th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning