Sunday, August 29, 2010

Taking a Closer Look at Subjects of Psychology Studies

Giridharadas's article in the New York Times raises a valuable question through exploring a recent study published in Behavioral and Brain Studies criticizing psychology studies' narrow subject base

I remember discussing this in a psychology class. Many subjects of psychology studies not only often come from western countries (frequently the US) but tend to be college students as well. Could some studies' results be extrapolated to society at large when this is such a narrow segment of the population? Consider one example: Individualism and choice are both highly regarded values in US society. These values are not necessarily shared with more traditional societies.

As a side note (and for this you need to read the article): 50 ice cream flavors to choose from?? I would much rather only choose from 10. Fifty choices sound to me mostly an overwhelming number of options.

Article was linked to on American Psychological Association's Psychology NewsWire.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Learning Social Skills

Case Manager: Say a person knocks on your [apartment] door. What do you tell him if you can't him see at that moment?
Client: .... I'm busy right now..?
Case Manager: Yes. And.....?
Client: ....
Case Manager: What do you tell someone who you can't see right at that moment? What would you want to hear if someone wasn't able to see you?
Client: ..... .....  I can't be bothered....?

Monday, August 23, 2010

At Some Point, Just Tell Client You're Going to Do Something

I have a client, Mary, who's eligible for a voucher that may be used for occasional health screenings/clothes/food at a location near her house. It's a great program but the voucher needs to be renewed every 3 years. Since Mary's voucher expired four months ago she has been going elsewhere to get these services but isn't always able to consistently get them and usually ends up spending a lot more time traveling to other agencies.

Mary doesn't want to renew her voucher. It is a bit of a hassle since the voucher needs to be renewed at a location further away from her. On the other hand this one trip means more support for three years. Part of the reason she doesn't want to go (and this affects our working relationship in other ways) is because Mary has mental health issues that she's not receiving medication for.

For the past three months I've been encouraging her to sign up for the voucher and have offered to go with her several times but Mary usually says she has a lot of other matters to take care of and has refused my help.

I was talking to a coworker about this and she suggested that I don't offer to go with my client but just tell her, "Let's take care of this at this and this time." Don't ask, but present it as a task to be completed. It's true I've tried this approach with other clients, particularly those that I've worked with closely and it has usually worked. Let's see how it works with this client. 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Odd/Uncomfortable Moments With Clients and Staff (Part 4)

Me: Did you decide who you're going to vote for (in the local elections)?
Client (curtly): That's none of your business.

(During Job interview over the phone between prospective employer and client)
Prospective employer: What's your phone number?
Client: I don't like that question. I'm done with this interview. (Client hangs up)
(Case manager regrets referring client to employer)

Message left on my answering machine: Hi, I'm calling from (four states away) to talk about someone who needs services in your city--

Staff member: Did you know that (client's name) passed away?
Me: No.
A fair mistake (staff member's delivery), perhaps. But for the future -- New rule: Always assume your coworker doesn't know that her client has passed away.

Also see part 3

Friday, August 13, 2010

Overheard at Budgeting Workshop

"I can't budget with this kind of money!!!"
Participant at a budgeting workshop (targeting providers) informed to budget with a monthly income of $750.

Does it help she was from the corporate world as opposed to social work? Not sure.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Carrying All Your Possessions with You

I'm on my way to visit a client and see a stack of dozens of bags and boxes laid out a block away. A few steps closer I see they're lying right by a bus stop. Only when I pass them do I see their owner sitting on the sidewalk, his face turned away from the sun. 

The vulnerability of having your belongings out in the open and having to move them, everything you own, each time you move from one place to another isn't something I fully grasp.
 I  pass by and can't help but think about the logistics of needing to move all these items on your own. It's not an uncommon sight to see folks experiencing homelessness in the neighborhoods we serve, but usually I don't see folks carrying a lot of bags with them.

Though I work with clients who're at risk to lose their housing (due to financial challenges, for example) the vast majority of my clients are already housed. A lot of exposure I have to people experiencing homelessness is through other case managers in my agency or passing by homeless folks outside. And of course, through accounts that I've read in books and such. I appreciate working for an agency that (through other departments) reaches out to people who experience homelessness.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Finding a Release

I've gotten involved in a community comedy sketch group in the last couple of months. A couple of people in the group have several years of experience either in acting or improv and occasionally take the role of teachers in our sessions. My only previous experience with acting is taking a couple of high school drama classes.

It has been an incredible release. I've particularly been enjoying doing improv which is a more freestyle form of acting. It has been great to take part in a creative activity (and something that has nothing to do with anything relating to my work). That being said, one growing challenge, as we've been learning more skills, is juggling them in a short time -- sometimes scenes are as short as 30 seconds. In that time you need to develop a character, react to your partner, stick to the same initial choice you make (for example, in mood), interact with an imaginary environment. It feels likes I'm juggling 8 balls when I'm fairly comfortable juggling just two.

I was trying to think what I should concentrate on most during improv scenes. I think working on my character and reacting to my partner is what I need to focus on. It shouldn't be work I remind myself. It should be a game. Playful. I need that.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Haven't Come Across this in a Rental Request

A coworker recently screened* a new client and I was looking over the screening paper. This particular client was asking for assistance with past due rent. Now in screening we don't go into detail of client's request and budget. I don't know much about this case to comment any further beyond stating that it was the first time I've seen a client screened in who earns more money than I do.

* A meeting where we take down basic info, like client's basic information and reason for visit.