The following article was provided with permission of the Social Work Consulting Group
Often, in our desire to be positive and helpful, we inadvertently say or do the wrong thing. This is not unique
to long-term care professionals. It happens to the very best, highly educated psychotherapists. So, how can we become better counselors?
The answer to this question is surprisingly simple. Here are four counseling fundamentals for long-term care professionals:
Our best advice is to take the time to learn about the resident. Read the chart, know something about the resident's family or another important
bit of information. Focus on sensitivity, empathy and respect. Be mindful of what questions you are asking in an interview and how you are
asking those questions. If the person is not able to answer mental status questions discontinue this part of the interview. Not knowing the
answer to common knowledge questions can be very humiliating for the person.
Quick Reference Counseling Do's and Don'ts:
Empty cliches often serve to make the situation even worse by creating feelings of guilt and self-doubt within the resident. Imagine how you would feel if a helping professional used these phrases in attempting to help you through a rough time. You would probably feel that your life and losses have been minimized, disrespected and even ignored.
In conclusion, it is imperative that the helper demonstrate candor, concern and sincerity. Steps must be taken to avoid being misinterpreted as empty, shallow and hollow during the counseling relationship. Remember, the person's feelings are not right or wrong but they are precious to the individual. Allow people their feelings. Listen and acknowledge their fears, pains and achievements.
Contributed by: S.C. Greenwald, Victoria Dzierzbicki, Director of Social Services at Meadowbrook Manor of Bolingbrook (Illinois) and the Social Services staff at Meadowbrook manor