Beginnings 91 paraphrase them verbalize and acknowledge feelings reach for specific feel- ings legitimize and universalize thoughts and emotions use metaphors, figures of speech, and humor and share their own thoughts and feelings). The worker and client then examine what each believes might be helpful, including hoped- for outcomes, priorities, respective tasks, and next steps. 2. Trauma-Informed Beginnings Mutual agreement is essential in trauma-informed beginnings and its five prin- ciples: safety, trust, choice, collaboration, and empowerment. The unique needs of trauma survivors, coupled with the fact that the trauma itself may not be the presenting problem and may not even be known at the outset, require social workers to attend to three considerations in the beginning phase: 1. The working relationship takes on special meaning when clients have trauma histories. The worker must be honest regarding the nature of, and any man- dates associated with, the services being provided. 2. Workers must remain within their role and use empathy judiciously. Whether in response to a direct question or as a voluntary disclosure, clients’ revela- tions about past experiences with trauma may prompt us to empathize and encourage them to elaborate upon their experience. This can be problematic, as the invitation might undermine clients’ natural coping abilities, resulting in what is referred to as flooding. 3. It can be extremely difficult to hear stories of clients’ pain and suffering. In many settings, a disclosure of past trauma may catch the worker off guard and lead to a comment or reaction that is ill timed and unhelpful. 3. Explanation of Purpose, Role, and Reaching for Feedback Workers craft a clear, nonjargonized description of the services that the agency provides and how they can be helpful. To ensure that worker and client are on the same page, as well as to promote empowerment and collaboration, the worker asks for and attends to feedback. When services are mandated, it is particularly important that workers be up-front about the services they offer. When a worker says one thing and does another, this hidden agenda will inevitably be detected by clients, which exacerbates their reluctance to engage with the worker. An additional consideration for students is the need for them to clarify this status to clients. Using skills associated with anticipatory empathy, students consider how they and their clients may react when they disclose their status as students, so that they can respond directly to any concerns that clients may have about this.
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