Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Professional Who Works with You Has No Personal Life

I recently wrote a post pondering how clients feel maneuvering the social services (both non profit and governmental) system. The post seemed a bit naive as I thought a bit later about how when I need services like seeing my doctor I barely think about him having a personal life outside work. When I talk with him I’m focusing on my health and making sure I’m asking all the questions I want to ask as the hourglass quickly empties. Last week a coworker of mine said to me jokingly that our clients don’t even see us but see what they can get from us. A literal example of this was during Halloween when we were given the option of dressing up for work and only a handful of clients made a comment about how I dressed (a turtle). Although this may reflect the quality of my self-made costume… But some clients do see. There have been other times that clients were able to see through the calm demeanor I try to keep and read nervousness behind it, or anxiety for the client.

It’s still not a very natural dynamic, where only one person knows a good deal about the other person’s life. I do sometimes catch myself feeling bad that I’m expecting to know a lot about my client and yet the client knows very little about me. I also sometimes feel a bit hypercritical, like in situations when I strongly encourage a client to do something like throw away his stacks of old newspapers while for me it’s so hard to throw away old college papers and such (so I may not keep stacks but I keep too many). At least I know that my experience of giving helpful advice but not always using is not a problem exclusive to case managers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's often easier to give advice than to use it. This goes back to "faking it." Making it seem like you take your own advice lends credibility to you and to the idea that it might be possible to do what you suggest. An example is a healthy-looking doctor that tells you to exercise while his coat hides a gut.

I don't think you're hypercritical. In addition to their hoarding being an actual problem for them, from their perspective, they don't know that you hold onto college papers.