Helping with Maladaptive Relationship and Communication Patterns 137 like grief and rage. Exploring interpersonal obstacles with survivors of trauma requires especially sensitive and skillful considerations. 3. Social Work Methods and Skills When maladaptive client-worker interpersonal processes interfere with our ability to help, we must promote open and direct communications with clients and establish common stressor definitions. To do this, workers rely upon meth- ods that have been previously discussed in this book: enabling, exploring, mobi- lizing, guiding, facilitating, and mediating. Workers adopt a transactional view of interpersonal stressors and are willing to examine their possible contribution to the interpersonal stress. This will require us to be transparent and acknowledge directly the role that we have played in exacerbating and maintaining the interpersonal stressors. In doing so, workers must explore their own feelings and attempt to identify what is triggering their reactions. When disruptions occur in relationships with clients, they will most likely not disappear unless they are addressed. The most basic skill involves pointing out the patterns. When clients’ reac- tions to their worker are rooted in maladaptive relationships with others, the first step is to point this out in a nonaccusatory, nonjudgmental way. Because clients’ reactions may be unconscious, workers may need to identify specific behaviors and reactions. Whether social workers’ reactions stem from issues in their personal lives or other factors, they must own them. Just as clients need help to resolve the parts of their lives that are creating stress for them, workers must be open to seeking guidance to enhance their competence and refine and expand their repertoire of skills. Supervision is the forum in which workers refine and acquire new skills, as well as enhance their understanding of their clients and themselves. Our willingness to use supervision is essential to understanding the sources of interpersonal stress in our relationships with clients and learn- ing how to manage them. Teaching Methods and Skills Nature and Causes of Interpersonal Stressors Students are likely to approach some or most of the case material in this chapter from the world of should. When they read the cases, they may quickly deter- mine that the workers’ reactions were “obviously” unhelpful. We must help them be in the world of is so that they can appreciate how easy it is for all of us
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