Monday, June 15, 2009

Helping a Troubled Family

For all of us in the Open Hand tribe and beyond that have participated in the ongoing home-based counseling work with families in crisis (referred to us by the Child Protective Services) here are encouraging words Rod first penned over a decade ago:

"Look for whomever is the most Self-Differentiated: this is not necessarily because they do "good" things. Who is able to express their own voice in the family apart from the togetherness pressures? This person is KEY to the system's health. They might be the person able to UNDERSTAND what you are all about even if they do not / cannot agree or cooperate.

Listen as much as you can but only focus on process. This means watch for the HOW and WAY (manner in which things occur) not the WHAT, the WHY and the WHO. Remembering that all behaviors have meaning but not all meaning is necessary for your understanding. In other words knowing that all behavior has meaning on your part is more important than uncovering the meaning behind a client's (family's) behavior. Remember that one person's behavior in a family is somehow everyone's behavior (to a lesser degree including yours!) I am thinking here along the lines of everyone is in a way implicated with all social problems.

It takes MONTHS to build a relationship even in the BEST of circumstances with WILLING participants. Your work is hard because you are going against every natural grain in the manner in which relationships work. F is supposed to avoid you, J is supposed to stand you up etc. Your arrival at the door is the most brazen act of relational suicide you could commit. It is a MIRACLE you get allowed in at all. The client's natural mechanism scream "Enemy" because of the role within which you function within the system. Once you overcome that you CAN do good work and be really in relationship but it is almost deemed not to LOOK like what the system is asking for. What the system (CPS) is asking for is the equivalent of wanting a square sphere or a round triangle. Somethings are just not possible but what is possible is BETTER by far! What is possible is ...... people begin to see they captain their own ships...and..

You are likely to do the best work when:

+ you yourself are differentiated (this is no light call. Please study this most misunderstood concept). It is not just BEING DIFFERENT,

+ when you take no sides (even against the system i.e. CPS, Jevenile Justice, Dad, Mom,)

+ when you are non-anxious about the anxious family and anxious system,

+ when you are playful without malice, sarcasm, or pretension,

+ when you track process and help the family or individual to track process,

+ when you nourish your own needs with loving care."

Rod E. Smith 11-03-99

Thanks for the encouraging words Rod. They still ring true today after a decade of helping hundreds of troubled families in Indianapolis.

No comments:

Post a Comment