I will approach this article from different perspectives as below:
- Helping people who do not want to be helped
- Helping people from the professionals own misdirected objectives
- Abandoning help for people too soon
- There are many young people who need our help for a variety of reasons to assist them in moving forwards with their lives, which includes young people who self harm.They may approach you for help but on the face of it, it appears that they really don’t want our help, which poses a dichotomy for helping professionals. What do you do in that situation? The likelihood is that they do want and need your help. They may approach you for help possibly to please someone else who has encouraged or pushed them in that direction of seeking the help, however, they themselves may not be ready or in a position to deal with the issues at hand that gaining the help may touch on, including the reason for their self harming behaviour. The other aspect of this scenario is that the benefits and advantages that they gain from their circumstances may well outweigh the benefits and disadvantages of being in their situation. In this situation, a skilled helping professional would assist them in gaining a balanced view of their situation to enable them to be in a position to make more rational, realistic, balanced and healthier choices in their lives. Removing the negatives from their situation creates a vacuum in their lives, which then must be filled with benefits and positive options and strategies, which in turn must provide sufficient motivation for them than the dis-benefits previously provided. The helping professional’s self harm awareness would also assist in managing the situation if the young person self harms.
- The other perspective of this discussion is that of helping professionals being mis-directed somewhat in their need to help the young person. That is to say that the helping professional is either consciously or unconsciously helping the young person in order to meet their own unmet needs, which may also serve as an opportunity to solve their own unresolved issues.It is important for helping professionals to be clear about their intentions to help young people at that given moment in time, as well as being conscious of what they might be projecting on to others, the young client included.
- The other important aspect of helping young people is for helping professionals not to release young people too soon from the intervention provided, before sufficient rapport and/or trust has been allowed to be developed and created. I have heard of too many examples where young people have been discharged or released from much needed intervention after one or two sessions because they ‘wouldn’t open up and talk’ or divulge information about their circumstances. We must be mindful that people who have been referred to helping professionals generally have a distrust of people around. Helping professionals are no exception to this rule! A skilled helping professional, however, would be mindful of this, and work with the young person accordingly to develop rapport and gain their trust before expecting them to divulge the real reason that they are there. Most often than not, the young person will initially reveal superficial and surface level issues to you, in order to test boundaries and to test YOU to see how you deal with these issues. Only after they are satisfied in some way or other with how you have dealt with the peripheries, will they be in a position to gravitate towards divulging greater issues.
The bottom line is for helping professionals to be mindful of how they are helping young people.