Even you, the professional helper, often mistaken for the enlightened Guru or Staretz, can become lost in your thoughts that you must be competent without fault. You may become enthralled with your identity as a professional, even the pressures of the culture of mastery that expects you to heal your clients without fail. Never mind all of the variables over which you have no control, it is up to you, according to the canons of mastery, to control the health and well-being of those for whom you provide professional care. This potentiates a furthering alienation between you and your clients. You are at risk to become, if you have not already, the one who does to your clients; to be the one the active subject acting upon the passive and receptive objects, your clients; to be the one in possession of special knowledge, technique and mastery. All of this conspires to coax or coerce you into treating your client as reduced, a mere case. Unawareness to these influences gives you little chance to consider their influence on your practice in the clinical setting, much less give attentive efforts to resist or change them.
Scott E. Spradlin
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When emotions turn and stay sour, when thoughts become cynical and judgmental, good and compassionate treatment is on the line. Helpers who become sour and cynical tend to begrudge their high need clients for their neediness. There is a risk that helpers become too well-practiced at taking a bleak view of those they have avowed to assist. There is a temptation to begin to blame clients for their failure to improve. If treatment ends pre-maturely, with either a client never returning to treatment or a helper 'firing' them out of frustration, there is a tendency for the client to take the fall. Of course what we are talking about here are signs of burnout.
Scott E. Spradlin
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Should you operate upon your clients as objects, you risk reducing them to less than human. Following the culture of appropriation and mastery your clients become a kind of extension of yourself, of your ego. In the appropriation and objectification mode, your clients' well-being and success in treatment reflect well upon you. You 'did' something to them, you made them well. You acted upon them and can take the credit for successful therapy or treatment. Conversely, if your clients flounder or regress, that reflects poorly on you. On this side of things the culture of appropriation and mastery says that you are not doing enough. You are not exerting enough influence, technique or therapeutic force. What anxiety this can breed for some clinicians! DBT offers a framework and tools for a treatment that allows clients to retain their full humanity. Through the practice of mindfulness, you can learn to cultivate a fuller presence to the moments of your life, and even with your clients and your work with them. This presence potentiates an encounter between two irreducible human beings, meeting professionally, of course, and meeting humanly. The dialectical framework, which embraces contradictions and gives you a way of seeing that life is pregnant with creative tensions, allows for your discovery of your limits and possibilities, gives you a way of seeing the dynamic nature of reality that is anything but sitting still; shows you that your identity grows from relationship with others, including those you help, that you are an irreducible human being encountering other irreducible human beings who exert influence upon you, even as you exert your own upon them. Even without clinical contrivance.
Scott E. Spradlin
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