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(The Care Guy)
20 commandments 2: Thou shalt respect your client and not judge
Posted on 6:23am Monday 30th Apr 2012
Listed under: 20 Commandments, Challenging behaviour, Mental health, Personality disorder, Psychology
Imagine a small child in a very large sweetshop. The lights are off and it’s completely dark except for a single spotlight illuminating a tiny piece of shelving. On the shelf, visible in the little pool of light are three bars of chocolate. One bar is milk chocolate, another dark while the third is white chocolate. That is all the child can see.
The child has one simple instruction…
Take your pick.
Obviously the child will choose one of the three chocolate bars he can see. It doesn’t matter what other treats might be in the shop because he can’t see them – he doesn’t know that they are available options.
This little post isn’t really about chocolate bars and children in sweetshops though. It’s about social care service users and the options they have available.
The sweets in the shop represent coping strategies. They’re behaviours. Choices about what to do in different situations. And just like the child in the sweetshop service users (along with everybody else) only choose the options, the behaviours that they know about.
So if someone you work with makes poor choices that’s not necessarily because they don’t want to do better. It’s more likely because they either don’t know what else to do or because they don’t think that other options will work for them.
Many people understand intellectually about good coping skills, socially acceptable behaviours but don’t believe that they will be given the opportunity to make different choices work for them. If they’re used to being treated with mistrust they won’t believe that the truth will work for them. If they’re used to being ignored they won’t believe that not drawing attention to themselves will meet their need for human contact. And they may well be right.
So, just like the child in the sweetshop they take the best option available to them.
They do the best they can with what they’ve got.
The next time you consider judging someone for their behaviour, for their beliefs or for their identity ask yourself if you are planning to help them or to hinder them. Only one of these is two options appropriate for workers in mental health services and it’s not ‘hinder’.
Don’t judge. It really doesn’t help. We can be aware of a individual’s typical behaviour patterns or belief systems without getting into valuing or devaluing the person.
Based on the work of ‘Margreeth H.’ (@mrgr8 on Twitter)