Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Don't Say "I Know" to a Client

Most of us know this, through advice from another case manager or through having said it to a client ourselves. "I know" being a response to a client talking about a personal and difficult situation, like living in an apartment that's in a poor condition. No, I don't completely know what it's like.

I have said "I understand" in the past but I've been told by a coworker that this may be tricky too because I don't really understand a situation. I mean it more as a I understand where (client) is coming from.

Really though, if I have been in a similar situation to a client, would it still make sense to say I know? Even if I do know what it feels like, would that be helpful? Apart from the fact that some of us may not respond to the same situation, i.e. crisis, in the same way. Though I do think to a degree it may make a client think that the person she's working with does know what she's going through and so respects her more, platitudes only go so far. It's important to acknowledge how a client is feeling, but I've spoken about how venting sessions eventually become unhelpful to a client too. It's also not what case management is about ultimately. We're not therapists. Our goal is to support the client to address her problem (and encourage this to do this on her own). Though the method may not always be a smooth one. (It wouldn't be as much fun if it was, right?)


SEH said...

THANK YOU - we don't KNOW. But, we can understand. That's what I try to say :-)

Also, we can one step further in trying to understand more. ASK MORE QUESTIONS. People love to tell their stories. Then, we develop trust and intimacy. Win-Win.

Anatolia said...

Thank you for commenting SEH! I agree that many people do love to tell their stories. Keeping an open mind, treating people with compassion and being patient, all help. I am sorry it took me several months to return to this site and approve your comment.